Friday, September 30, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Last night Katie had me, Alissa, Garrett, and Kyla over for dinner. We decided it would be fun to cook breakfast, so we made pancakes, bacon, and potatoes. Normally I'm a waffle person, but Korea has changed my taste in food. Plus I put chocolate chips in mine :)

We had to cook everything in a tiny little kitchen with only 2 pans. So first we made the potatoes, then rinsed out that pan to cook the bacon. We had a tiny frying pan for the pancakes, and we could only make one at a time. It took us over an hour to cook everything and we were done eating in about 20 minutes. It was so good!

We ate out of bowls and plates, and drank out of little kid cups and coffee mugs. 2 people sat on the bed, 2 people sat in regular chairs, and one person sat in the reading chair. This is what dinner parties in Korea are like - random and mis-matched because our apartments were not built for entertaining.

Then we watched some great youtube videos, and the movie Groundhog's Day. I was going to take pictures because I haven't taken any for a long time, but I took my camera out of my purse and realized the battery was dead. So use your imagination.

Funny kiddos

Here are some things that happened at work this week:

I was teaching kindergarten, and we were sitting in a circle on the floor. A bug landed on my leg and one little boy reached out and killed it. I was both grossed out and impressed.

Another day a cute little boy in kindergarten was sitting by me in the circle and he held my hand the whole time. So precious. 

My 1st graders were drawing things that started with the letter O. They had to draw an octopus, and apparently they have no idea what an octopus looks like. One had 3 legs, one had 4, one had a million, one had a pig nose, and one looked like a fried egg.

I've discovered I can trick my 5th and 6th graders into doing anything by telling them its a game. If I say "today we're going to write" they say "uhhh teachaaaa" but if I say "today we're going to play a writing game" they say "YAY!" So we played some super fun writing and grammar games this week.

Yuri and I had open class. The principal, 4 teachers, and 4 parents came to watch. A few of them said "good job" before they left, and one teacher told me she liked my earrings. I'm glad she was paying attention...

I realized one of my kids doesn't know that Q and U are different letters. They sound similar, but look very different.

The 2nd graders made "I want" books. They all wanted cookies, cake, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, bread, and candy. I was so proud they didn't want kimchi :)

One day I only had a few kids so I let them play charades. I made them act out things like wolf, alligator, fish, flying, surgeon, hair stylist...

Yuri and I had the kids break up into groups. Half the kids had to act things out and the other half had to guess what they were doing. One of them was dancing, and without hesitation, 2 5th grade boys grabbed hands and started slow dancing. And their partners figured it out right away.

Thursday morning Sam and I spent 45 minutes talking and looking at facebook instead of lesson planning.

Friday morning I went to Jenny's office to ask her one question and we ended up talking for an hour and a half.

We were practicing vocabulary words by throwing a ball around - whoever had the ball had to say what the word was. Then somebody accidentally threw the ball out the window, and the game was over.

I saw the 5th and 6th graders having gym class outside. They were in 2 lines and they were supposed to throw balls to their partner. The ball almost always went to the wrong person, or bounced way too short, and kids were running all over the place. It was so entertaining! Phy ed has obviously taken a back seat to math and science.

My kids think "unbelievable" is a really great word for describing the way things look.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Funny story

A few weeks ago Yuri said "I have a badminton tournament soon. Want to come watch me?" Yes. Absolutely. That has entertainment written all over it. So she told me the time and place, and because it's Korea it got changed a few times, but it ended up being Sunday morning at 8:40 at the high school gym near my apartment.

So Sunday morning Katie and I met outside the high school at 8:30...with plenty of time to find the gym. Right? Wrong. We wandered all over. Finally we saw an old man and said "badminton?" and he pointed up some stairs. We got there and found 6 people randomly hitting a birdie around. That was not the tournament we were looking for. So we wandered some more and found an old lady. We asked her the same question and got the same not-so-helpful response. Eventually I texted Yuri and said "I think I'm lost." She came outside and jumped and waved her arms around until we found her. The tournament was across a courtyard in the elementary school gym. Of course.

By the time we got there she was finished :( We watched some of her friends, and when there was an open court she went down there and showed us her skills. When I tell other Koreans my co-teacher is Yuri they usually say something like "Wow, she's very good at badminton." They are correct!

Now...picture this. A parking garage with coolers, picnic blankets, tables, and portable stoves. Yuri took us to her club's area (yes, there are badminton clubs, and yes, each club brought it's own kitchen) A bunch of her friends were sitting down and she said "Let's have breakfast. We have meat, vegetables, and rice cakes." None of that is breakfast food, so I ate some pears. Then she said "Do you want some beer?" It's 10 in the morning. On a Sunday. Definitely not time to start drinking. That didn't stop any Koreans though....

Then she brought us back to the gym for the opening ceremony...even though the tournament had already opened. Katie and I were the only white people, and everybody noticed us. We felt very uncomfortable. Everyone had to sit on the floor, single file, with their club, and get counted. Each person was worth 1 point for that club. I don't know what the points were for. Then some man asked Yuri if I would give flowers to some important guy during the ceremony. She said no, thank goodness. This was a situation where I did not need any extra attention brought upon myself. We sat there for about 10 minutes (10 minutes too long) then she snuck us out. We went back to the portable kitchens for a little bit, then left to meet Alissa for church. All before 10:30.

The rest of the day was spent at church, then having a pizza picnic in the park with about 15 church friends. We turned a lot of heads! Such a fun Sunday :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eating live octopus

These are my friends. They are WAY braver than me!

PS. I made the mistake of watching this while eating macarnoni. Be smarter than I was...put the fork down.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Every week I watch Steven Furtick's sermon, and every week God speaks to me through this pastor. What he says is always relevant. You should watch the whole thing because this one is really good, but you at least have to watch the first minute.

These are my highlights:

*God put dreams in our hearts. Be brave and bold and follow them because God gave them to you
*Muster the strength to walk the path in front of you
*Offer the gifts you have back to the one who gave them to you
*Figure out what God put you on the earth to do and throw yourself into it

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


If you ever want to feel 100% out of place you should go to a Korean university, sit in a room full of Koreans, and try to speak Korean while everyone around you pretends to study but actually eavesdrops and judges you. Good times. I've gotten used to being the only foreigner in groups, but in public places like school or Home Plus or the bus where I have a right to be there too. This was different and weird. Oh well.

Last week my language partner Ken brought 2 of his friends to our lesson. Tonight there were 2 friends again - one was the same and one new. I think I'm going to meet everybody he knows. It's good, its actually more fun this way. It feels more relaxed and informal. And I think they like to hear a foreigner struggle with Korean since they all spend so much time struggling with English.

And then when the lesson was over I got on the bus to come back to my apartment, and the driver took a really weird route. He went places he wasn't supposed to go and I was a little nervous I was going to end up lost on the side of the road. And for a while I was the only person on the bus. Usually people are fighting for seats. What a weird night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jeju part 2

Day 3: Jeju island was formed by a volcano called Mount Halla. Most people who go to the island hike the mountain, so we thought we'd do it too. We also thought it would be a nice little stroll. Wrong. For about the first hour it was pretty easy - we were basically walking on gravel. Then we got to this staircase.
 The picture doesn't really do it justice, but there were 155 stairs (I counted) and they were at basically a 70 degree angle. And it only got harder from there. The trail was totally uphill until we got to the top of the mountain, and most of the time we were climbing really big stairs made out of planks and rocks.
 It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to the top. I was totally drenched in sweat and I smelled really great.

 The view at the top. This is a crater, and sometimes this water is a big pretty lake. It was basically an over-sized puddle when we saw it. Not worth all the work.
 Victory picture!
This is me holding a cloud :)

The way down the mountain was not that much better. We took a path that was supposed to be easier, but it was made up of really huge jagged sharp rocks that were so much fun to step on. The trail had mile markers occasionally, and at one point we saw one and expected it to tell us we were almost done, but we still had 5.1 kilometers to go. This mountain made me so mad. I can't even remember the last time I was that angry. It was not even a little fun, and I think the worst part was that there was nothing we could do except keep going. And nobody else seemed to be struggling. Most of the people were old men and ladies, and they had their track suits and hiking sticks and were passing us, and we were sweaty and hardly moving. I finally got to the bottom and literally laid down on the ground. It took us almost 7 hours total, and we walked 11 miles. We got back to our hotel and ordered pizza because we were too sore to go anywhere else. Then we fell asleep at 9:30.

Day 4: Last day in Jeju :( We woke up late and laid around until it was check-out time. Then we went to the lava tubes. These are caves that were formed by lava. It didn't work to take pictures, but it was really cool. When we were done we got in a cab to go downtown and find some food, and our cab driver tried to rip us off. Luckily we are not dumb foreigners. Then...I threw up in the bathroom. My body doesn't do well with altitude, and the combination of being up in the mountains and then down in the caves made me sick. Not so fun. What made it worse was that I had to spend the night on a ferry. I called in sick to work the next day.

All in all, this was a really great trip! Katie, Alexis and I had a ton of fun together. We got to see a lot of cool things and have a nice relaxing vacation. But if you ever go to Jeju, DO NOT CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jeju part 1

I'm back from vacation! It was wonderful. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise, not Korea. 
This was our ferry. It was much nicer than I was expecting. I thought I was going to be on a little tug boat or something. Unfortunately we left Saturday night, the same night a typhoon was blowing through Korea. A boat is not the best place to be in that situation. At one point we couldn't even walk straight - we had to hold on to the wall to keep from falling over. I woke up a few times from all the rocking back and forth. But, we made it.
 Wind-blown hair
 This was the room we slept in. When we checked in they offered us a smaller room, so we ended up sleeping with only 20 other people instead of 200. We literally slept on the floor with squares that were supposed to be pillows. The funniest thing was all the other people slept in a line on one side of the room, and the 3 of us pretty much had the other half to ourselves. They were all lined up like sardines and we were spread out, taking up all kinds of space.
Dutch Blitz! Our entertainment. I won :)

Day 1: We got off the boat around 7 AM, got in a taxi, and fell asleep on the way to our hotel. Then we met Slyvia. She's the owner/receptionist/mom of the hotel. Every day we told her what we wanted to do and she helped us figure out the best way to do it and get there, got us buses and taxis, and she even took our picture on her camera every day before we left. So sweet. She let us check in early so we could shower and eat breakfast. It was raining, so we decided to take a submarine tour first.
 The sub
 So excited!
 Pretty coral
A scuba diver fed the fish right outside our window so we could see lots of them.
There was a man narrating everything, but he didn't speak English. He threw in a few words every now and then to make us feel included. He passed out suckers to the children, and to us. And he told us that he was a "single, handsome guy." I love that he wasn't able to tell us about the ocean, but he could tell us his relationship status.
 Nothing says island like palm trees and boats
 After the submarine we visited this waterfall. I forget the name, but it's famous.
These guys are all over the island. It used to be mostly women that lived on Jeju island, and they would dive and spear fish. I'm not sure why, but there weren't really any men. So they built a bunch of these statues to protect them.
Delicious lunch

Day 2: Beach day! This was my favorite. We literally laid on the beach for 7 hours. There was a sign that said no swimming because there weren't any lifeguards. We ignored it. The beach was pretty empty, which was nice. The sand was pretty and the water was really clear. It was so beautiful and relaxing.
 I spent the day reading a book and listening to the waves.

 We wanted to be on this sailboat.
 Lunchtime! We ate at a buffet. They had Korean, Chinese, and some American food. We got our money's worth :)
 We heart Jeju

 After lunch we went for a little stroll and saw these guys. I have no idea why there are penguins and seals living outside a restaurant in Korea, but there are...

Stay tuned for Jeju part 2 :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


1. Last night I was watching a sermon and I found this blog. Pretty perfect for my to-stay-or-not-to-stay dilemma.

2. September 12 and 13 are Korean Thanksgiving, so I have vacation! My school is also giving me September 14 off. Sooo, I'm going to Jeju Island with Katie and Alexis. We're going to lay on the beach, visit a volcano, see some waterfalls, maybe take a submarine tour, do some's going to be very fun and very relaxing. Unfortunately, there are no more plane tickets, so we're taking an overnight ferry. We leave Saturday night and don't have assigned seats, so that will be really interesting. Hopefully not too uncomfortable. Originally we were supposed to come back Tuesday night, but Alexis got a phone call today saying that the ferry burned down. Umm...what?! I'm not really sure how/why this is all working out, but we're leaving Wednesday night instead. Bright side, we get to spend another day in Jeju. Down side, I have to work Thursday after spending the night on a ferry.

3. I have a language partner. His name is Ken, he's 28, and he's studying English at Ulsan University. He also speaks Japanese and Chinese. I'm intimidated by his language skills. He's going to teach me Korean and I'm going to teach him English. Except he just spent a year studying English in Canada, so we're mostly going to be working on Korean. We're supposed to meet every Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon, but I have a feeling we'll be skipping a lot of Saturdays.

4. Today I got my hair cut. I go to the salon that has an English-speaking stylist. Her name is Ban Seok and she is fantastic. Background information: the first time I went there I brought Katie with me because I was nervous. She had her kindle and was reading. Tonight one of the stylists came over and said "I remember your friend! She had the e-reader. She was reading the Bible." And then Ban Seok said "She is Christian?" and I said "Yes." and she said "You are Christian too?" and I said "Yes." Then she pointed to the other stylist and said "Me and him too!" So now we're best friends. She told me all about a missions trip she took to Israel, and she asked me about church in Korea. She told me to pray for the 2 Koreas because a lot of people hate each other and they're supposed to be family. Then when she was done she made me some coffee (they have equipment in the salon) and we chatted some more. Best haircut experience ever.

5. Today was Wednesday. Every Wednesday I leave Sun-am at 12:30 to go to Jang Saeng Po. At 12:20 Jenny called and said I didn't have to come to JSP because the school was taking a special field trip. I think she called at the last minute because she forgot about me. Anyways, I stayed at Sun-am. Every Wednesday the teachers play volleyball. This is a nation-wide thing...its kind of crazy. I'm always teaching so I never get to play. Until today :) Today they put the net at tennis height, and the men used their heads and feet, and the women used their hands. It's so much easier than real volleyball! I got the ball over the net a few times so they think I'm a star. Then we went to the teacher's office and had a Chinese buffet. I'm so sad I miss out on this every week. It was a ton of fun! It was really great to just hang out with the teachers and not worry about lesson plans or kids or anything. I hope my classes get canceled more often.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My dilemma

I'm trying to decide if I should stay another year once my contract is up, or go home. When I first came to Korea I didn't really think I'd be here longer than a year. After a few months, I started thinking about renewing my contract. 
I love my job. I know for a fact this is the easiest teaching job I'll ever have, and this job is preparing me for my career. Plus its nice to learn how to be a teacher in this environment. If I stayed another year, I'm pretty positive I'd get to be in the same schools with the same students and mostly the same staff, which would be really nice. I wouldn't have to start over. And who knows what job I'd be able to get in America, if I could get a job at all. I'm lucky to be employed and have a paycheck every month, especially with student loans...
But, I really miss my friends and my family. I've got good people over here, but its not the same. It's hard to not be there for the birthdays and weddings and miss out on life back home. It's also getting really hard to be a foreigner. Things that were funny or no big deal in the beginning are becoming frustrating. I'm afraid if I stay another year those things will make me hate this country, and I don't want that. I'm learning Korean, but I'm no where close to having a real conversation with a Korean person. Most of my teacher friends are going home at the end of our contract, or haven't decided yet, so I'm not sure who I would hang out with if I stay another year.
So there are reasons to stay and reasons to leave. I feel like I need to make this decision in the next few months because Yuri is only going to be the English teacher next year if I stay. My decision affects her too and out of respect for her I don't want to wait until the last minute. Plus, if I'm coming home after this year I'll use my Christmas break to take another fun vacation. If I'm staying in Korea another year I want to be home for Christmas. I need to know what I'm doing in order to buy a plane ticket. I've been praying about this and I want you to pray for me too. I want to do what God wants me to do, otherwise whatever I choose is going to be a big, giant failure.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Party Pinatas!

Summer is officially over :( Today was the first day of the new semester. I was not excited, and neither were my students. I saw a 6th grade boy wandering the hallway this morning, and he said "teacha, this day is no fun." I know. I had to teach a lesson on the past tense and future tense after a month of playing games, cooking, and this fun pinata project! This was the last thing I did during summer vacation. I taught the 1st and 2nd graders about birthdays, so I decide we would make pinatas. Then I had extra supplies, so I did it with my 3rd and 4th graders too.
 First blow up your balloon. Or, get it all wet with your spit and then give it to Breann teacher to blow up because you thought you could do it yourself but you actually can't.
 Then cover it with newspaper strips and watery glue.
 And get every surface in the classroom nice and sticky.

 Wait for it to dry overnight, then paint!
Believe it or not, no one painted on their clothes!
 We got some paint on the floor once, but wiped it up fast enough that it didn't stain. Thank goodness.

Good-bye summer, we will all miss you.