Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hello Muuido

We had a wonderful time at the beach this weekend!!! It was just the relaxation I think we all needed to recharge our souls.

Here's my first glimpse of Muuido (a small island near the Incheon Airport {which is where I flew into Korea}):

You can see how far out the tide goes - there were all kinds of swamped boats all over!

After we got off the bus, it was a fair walk to the ferry - here's the crowd pushing on:

Once you get to the ferry, it's about two city blocks to the island. Seriously, the ferry ride MIGHT be about 4 minutes long. Some families were inviting the seagulls to use the ferry as their personal toilet by tossing food to the as we crossed. It was kind of gross:

But we finally made it. Here's me kicking back on the beach:

And the beach:

These are the little 8x8 huts you can rent for $40 a night. I actually ended up sleeping in the sand in FRONT of the hut we rented :)

Ahh, summer:

Check this out - I think we were nearly a mile from the "beach" and look how shallow it was!

(Thanks to Nancy for this picture)

So Danielle took a cool "running on water" pic:

Also, the fates combined to make me homesick. There were a bunch of hippies with guitars at the beach, and we all gathered 'round the bonfire to sing folk music. As we were introducing ourselves, Rebecca, the Brit-hippie with an angel's voice, asked me where I was from. When I said Wichita, she said "Oh, I know a song about Wichita" and proceeded to sing the sweetest little song about the leaves changing in the fall in Wichita. As if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, THIS Korean woman was walking around on the beach too:

Ten points to the first person who determines if this is a real car place - CJ? :)

The coolest part of the whole trip, however, was the contest. We heard some commotion coming from down the beach, so Catherine and I decided to go investigate. It turns out there was this stage and some announcer with a mic and a bunch of Koreans sitting on the ground watching. We got there just in time to see this bizarre dancing contest. Then each contestant had to go grab a woman and bring her up on stage. Guess who got chosen?!?!

So there I was with about 10 Korean women wondering how the heck I'm going to figure out what's going on, seeing as how the extent of my Korean knowledge is some foods, hello, and thank you. My plan was to stay at the end of the line so I could watch them each go first and figure it out... No dice. The announcer sees my waeguk (the term for foreigner here) face and pulls me to the front of the line.

Basically the contest ended up being this: Repeat a string of korean words after the announcer. Then, replace the "kong" in each word with a snort. Towards the end it went something like this:
Announcer: dongkongkingkongwanakongkongnameul
Emily: dongkongkingkongwanakongkongnameul
Announcer: dong*snort*king*snort*wana*snort**snort*nameul
Emily: dong*snort*king*snort*wana*snort**snort*nameul

So I think my goofy laugh may have aided me, because I TOTALLY WON THE CONTEST!!!! Yes, I beat Koreans in a game where speaking Korean was essential!!!! Here is my awesome prize:

These gift packs are everywhere because it's almost Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and nothing says "I love my family" better than getting them clean. Also, there's a rockin' Spam-and-olive-oil gift pack that I think could really show someone you care.

Anyways, that was my very wonderful weekend... AJ and Danielle have posted some other pics on their blog if you want to check them out!

Love you all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My directorial debut...

I was going to blog about the jjimjilbang tonight, but I just watched the video I took of the FINAL rehearsal before the big drama show tomorrow, and I'm so proud of these kids... They're so awesome. Keep in mind, we've only practiced about 7 times together - THEY ROCK!!!

The premise is this: There's no food for the animals, so Little Hippo and Little Turtle venture into the jungle to find some. This is dangerous because SCARY DINO lives there! However, as we all know, music soothes even the savage beast, and the animals all learn that they can be very happy if they all just sing together!

If you have about 5 1/2 minutes to spare, watch the video. You won't be disappointed!

Also, here's the awesome hat I bought tonight.

It says "I'm too human. SOUL'dOUT. Suit Myself." And the note in front of it is from my little Michelle (little Hippo in the play). It places me on par with hump day. She loves us both. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

In the works:

FYI- we are working on setting up an LCI teachers' blog, where everyone can post common pictures, LCI/Jukjeon experiences, etc, etc... So be on the lookout!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's been awhile...

...And I'm getting heckled, so here's a blog! :)

Actually, it's been fairly uneventful around here. I moved here knowing I wouldn't get a paycheck for a month and ten days, but I had an unrealistic expectation that it would be so much cheaper for everything here. It's not. Yes, there is a lot that's very inexpensive, but for the most part, it's fairly similar here as far as prices go.

That said, it's hard to go find awesome things to post about when you have to decide whether to spend your money on food or beer :) hahahahah.

School is going well. The teacher I replaced, Brooke, came in to visit the kids on Friday before she goes back to Canada. It was really cool to see the kids with her. Also, she said that she was so glad to see that they were all happy with me. It made me feel good that she feels like the kids are in capable hands :)

In drama, we've started making our background trees for the jungle set of Scary Dino (the play we're doing). We perform Thursday (which also means I'm expected to buy ice cream for all the kids thursday), so I'm going to try to record the final rehearsal Tuesday for you all to see (and evaluate my mad choreography skills,hahahaha).

Also, on Friday, we went to the galbi place after work again. But this time, we got something called samgyeopsal, which is like super-thick bacon that you grill. Then you eat it the same way, all wrapped in a leaf with whatever toppings you want. So delicious! Then it was on to Crazy Beer!

In Korea it is considered gauche to drink without eating something. So many places serve little bowls of the above. It tastes like salty puffed air, and I love it!

Here is me rocking the Harry Potter shirt while Courtney stares hungrily at my beer:

On Saturday I got up and decided to go right at the big intersection instead of left. I'd never been up that way before. There wasn't a lot up that way, except THE BIGGEST CHURCH I'VE EVER SEEN! It was this huge Christian church that looked like a big office building or something. Crazy huge. And they had a very unique sculpture out front:

"I like to picture my Jesus like a bodybuilder, with big ol' muscles."
It just seemed very strange to me that the artist felt the need to pull down part of Jesus' robe to expose his chest and shoulders. Weird.

Today I finally got out and climbed this little hill that I pass on the way to E-mart.

You climb those stairs, and some more, then it just becomes a path with a rope railing, until finally you reach the top!! Here is how you are rewarded for your efforts:


So of course I had to try it out! Here's an awesome action shot of me working out on the "stand here and do the twist" machine:

I'm good with the timer, what can i say? :)

Also, I saw this large crater up there:

Meteorite? Giant birdbath? Spa for relaxing in after the exercise? You decide.

When they're not climbing hills to work out at the top, Koreans love their fried chicken. There are about as many fried chicken places around here as pizza places (and there's a TON of those!). We just had a new one open up near our apartments. Apparently, whenever some place has a grand opening, the "dancing girls" come out and wear skimpy clothes and entice people (men) to come to that particular business.

While I don't have a picture of them (sorry Uncles), I do have a picture of the awesome self-promotion this particular fried chicken place has placed on their wall outside:

Yeah baby, bring on the EGGPAPA!!!

Love you all!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Korean TV... strange. Check this out:

Yeah. No idea what that's about... Although, there is some game show on at night that I'm addicted to. People stand on a stage while big walls with random body-shaped (ish) cutouts come flying at them. They have to maneuver in such a way that the wall passes by them - if not, they end up in a pool of water. It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kindy Chaos

So we had ANOTHER birthday party Monday! The spread wasn't quite so huge, but it was still impressive...

I love this picture of my kids - it's so representative of how chaotic they are all the time!

This party's treats were cookies, these weird rice-ball-things with honey/sugar in the middle, cake from Paris Baguette, Capri Sun, fruit kebabs (that included tomatoes, thus ending that old debate, I guess), some weird rice-cake-bread-things, and of course, Go-Gurt. I hate go-gurt. I have to open it for each child, and it makes a horrible sticky mess. I think they keep bringing it cuz they hate me. :)

So after a long day back at work after a long weekend, Danielle and I decided it was time for some wine. We found some delicious stuff that was priced at $9, but rang up as $14. I guess the price went up, but a nice English-speaking employee gave us the lower price. Woo hoo!

Today we had a field trip with the kindergarteners. Of course, we didn't find out about it until lunchtime yesterday.. "Umm, teachers? We will be taking a field trip tomorrow, so you must be here by 9:30. We are going to mmmm..environment museum...mmmm... ok?"

Turns out it was a recycling center! Their mascot is this Tin Man named Canny, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Look at how good they were watching the video:

Then we sat them down in a giant syringe:

And showed them another video on a wall that included this picture:

It was great!

Also, I taught my kids the name game song.. You know, "Emily Emily bo-bemily, banana-nana-fo-femily, fee-fi-mo-memily... EMILY!" Anyways, it's so adorable because they don't really know it well yet, so during math yesterday Eileen was writing her numbers out and softly singing "Eileen Eileen bo-beileen, EILEEN!" hilarious!! They get such a kick out of it.

I don't really have anything else that will end this blog entry nicely... so... until next time...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This 'n' That

Some mini-updates:

On Friday, after my day in Seoul, I went to the grocery store. While there, I ran into one of my kindergarteners (Ryan) and his mother. He acted very shy, which was funny to me. His mom came up and introduced herself and asked how he was in class. I was pretty impressed with her English abilities. I told her that he's one of the smartest in the class, and is so much fun to be around. I think it made her whole week. Parents here place tons of emphasis on schooling. In fact (according to Lonely Planet) Koreans spend more on education than any other industrialized nation, but are like, 26th in average consumer spending. Anyways, it was a fun little exchange, and really great to meet the mother of one of my little rugrats.

Speaking of rugrats, here's a picture of my most advanced class:

That's Aileen, Jenny, and Justin. It's a PK-14 class, which means basically these kids have had quite a few years of English. This class is focused more on writing, whereas most of my other classes are focused on speaking.

Justin is such a fun kid. I think he's spent a little time either in Canada or the States, and LOVES writing. A lot of the assignments are to read a story, then write a new ending to it. He sits there and starts fidgeting as he's writing and saying, "Teacher! This is a very exciting story! Very exciting!" I love it. His enthusiasm for learning is awesome.

Also, kid-related - I was walking to the store today and saw that there's a random moon-bounce on my street. The kids looked like they were having a blast:

I've had a few peope ask how my Korean is coming along. It was easy as pie to learn the letters, and I can sound things out here, but the translating part is much slower. I get a lot of practice with TV - whenever they play American movies (all the time) they usually have the title in Korean. It's usually a funny pronunciation of the English title (For example, the Matrix would be pronounced Mah-tur-rik-sah). I realized this week that I should start photocopying my students' spelling tests, as they have to know the English word AND the Korean word... It would be a good way to learn basic words.

Since I'm not so great, I brought home the menu form from our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Gimbap Paradise, and translated a lot of the dishes so I'd know what to order when I go back. Here's the sheet pre-translation:

So now I know the words for tuna and stew and rice :)

Finally - we went Salsa dancing in Seoul last night... It was a BLAST!!!! We ate my favorite meal, galbi (see earlier post about my first weekend), at a restaurant that's called "Gooey Gooey." I'm sure it doesn't mean the same thing, but that's how the korean is pronounced. Here's me in front of the sign:

Every good Kansas girl needs a pair of ruby-red shoes ;)

And after the club, I saw my first passed-out Korean, and had to take a picture with him:

Too much fun!

And finally - today AJ and Danielle and I went to a restaurant called Butterfinger Pancakes. It was heavenly. Very delicious American-tasting pancakes and sausage and bacon and hash browns (the eggs were a little underdone and I think they made AJ and I sick). But it was an AWESOME brunch. Nearby, there's a statue that we named Aunt Jemima. We had to take pictures:

Then on the way home we detoured at E-mart and Danielle and AJ had to carry their large purchases all the way home. Apparently it's "Look Off In The Distance" day in Korea :)

That's it for today. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and if you have any suggestions to make it better, please leave comments!!

Love you all!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Seeing Seoul, Self-Guided

First things first: Thursday's Family Guy night was a smashing success!

Friday morning, Jordan and I caught the 5500-1 bus into Seoul. Our directions were: "After you cross the Han River, you'll see a big huge warrior statue. The next stop is in front of a beautiful building, and across the street is a big pink and blue seashell thing. Get off there." That was how we were to find the Seoul City Tour bus stop.

Of course, yesterday being a holiday (Korea's independence from Japan), there were parades and street closings and finally our bus driver just kicked us off. We had no idea where we were, but we got out. Luckily, just a few steps ahead was one of the Seoul City Tour bus stops!!!

We waited a little over 30 minutes, and decided that it was probably either not running or on a different route because of the holiday. So we took matters into our own hands and decided to eat! We found a little Korean restauant where we had beef with rice, and Jordan was brave enough to try the tiny fish! (A little dried fish that you just eat whole):

She said it was super spicy, so I thought I ought not try it.

After lunch we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was the main palace for the Joseon dynasty, was constructed in 1395, burned down during a Japanese invasion in 1592, and was reconstructed in 1868. It was beautiful:

The main gate:

They were setting up for a huge celebration something-or-other. AJ said he and Danielle saw that the President was speaking - maybe from where we were??? :)

This is the throne hall from the outside:

And from the inside: (the colors are absolutely breathtaking)

Proof that I was actually there:

This is a pavilion use for royal banquets. It was almost totally surrounded by water, and was incredibly beautiful:

The palace grounds were enormous, and it was way too huge to see everything. After the palace, we went into the National Palace Museum of Korea. It was kind of small, and they didn't have a lot of the blurbs about the artifacts in English, just the titles of things. Still I found this very interesting:

This is a 3/4 scale replica of a placenta jar and monument. Basically, when the royal family had a child, they erected these HUGE monuments just to hold the infants umbilical cord and placenta. Isn't that wild?! Imagine someone was so excited about your birth that you got your own structure to house the part most people throw away! It was crazy to me.

After the museum, we decided to go to Itaewon. This is where the US Army Base is, and we'd heard there were lots of foreigners there. Sure enough, as soon as we stepped off the subway we heard tons of English. The whole street is filled with vendors and shops and FOREIGNERS GALORE!

I took this picture, because it tickled me. We were on a main road, and found this sign pointing down a back alley:

"Come foreigners. Come down a back alley. We'll translate for you, we promise!"

Also, this made me laugh (so American!):

Finally, every major city's got to have one:

After all the walking, we were exhausted and decided to call it a day. However, I'm going with Jordan and George back to Itaewon tonight - we're going SALSA DANCING!!! (which really means those two will be salsa dancing, and I'll be the very white girl swaying in her seat, hahahah)

Last but certainly not least, here's a picture for my very dear friend Michele. I hope she appreciates it :)

Love you all!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Kansas in Korea!!

Homesickness be gone! :) Today a couple things happened that made me feel more at home here:

First, on the way to school, I saw that a new sunflower had bloomed:

Then, during my first afternoon class, it was storming. One kid said "Oh no! Tornado!" So I got to do this whole spiel about tornadoes and the Wizard of Oz and I drew this awesome picture of the US and Kansas and Wichita and tornadoes with houses and cows and bikes in them, and I told the kids not to erase it (because I was gonna take a picture) but of course they did (the punks).

Anyways, I decided it was important to talk about in all three of my afternoon classes, so I did :) What was awesome was about 40% of the kids knew about the Wizard of Oz and knew what I was talking about - it was great!

Also, in my second afternoon class we're reading Snow White. Each class is reading a different fairy tale... Anyways, we were at the part where the Queen is trying to poison Snow White, and right as one of my girls read out loud "'Here,' said the Queen, 'try this apple. It's delicious.'" a HUGE thunderclap boomed... It was PERFECT TIMING!!! We all just started cracking up.

It's been beautifully cloudy the last two days - it's awesome because I don't sweat on the way to school (until I get in the elevator). I hope this means the miserable summer is nearing its end.

We have Friday off of work, so Thursday night a bunch of us are getting together for a Family Guy night at Danielle and AJ's (Oh yeah, MY Family Guy DVDs... I'm an important part of the evening's entertainment, woo hoo!!!!). Then Friday Jordan and I are taking the Seoul City Bus Tour - basically the bus goes all day and hits each stop every 30 minutes, so if you want to get off somewhere (say, to see the Prison History Museum, yesssss) then you can get back on after you check it out! I'm pretty pumped about it... Other than that, no plans for the weekend though. :(

Here's a pretty picture I took today of some happy daisies that greet me each morning:

Love 'em. And, because I like to keep you all abreast of my culinary activities, here's the dinner I made last night (Mandu and some sort of meat-thing):

That's all for today! Hopefully I'll get some rockin' pictures tomorrow and Friday to show off!!

Love you all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Well, not a lot...

that's what I've been up to :)

Last night a few of us went to WaBar after work for a couple beers (and also so Brett and Courtney could plan their birthday party -they were both born on 8-29). It was a pretty good time:

Courtney and Emily

Brett and Tyler

Afterwards we went to get a bite to eat - some at Kimbap Paradise and some at this roadside stand thing. Tyler and I got the roadside food - it was DELICIOUS!!!! It was fried potato, shrimp, and kimbap (rice and seaweed). Then Courtney let me try her "dunkas" (probably spelled wrong) and it was also DELICIOUS!!! It's basically a fried pork fritter with cheese in it. So good!

School was good today - I got two dances choreographed with my drama kids - My kindergarteners are mildly insane - and I learned where the jjimjilbang is in my building (that's the place where you strip down and relax in hot and cold pools and saunas and get massages). So as soon as I get the nerve to show Koreans my large white goods, I'll be going there :)

I'll leave you with this image (because this is kind of a boring post): The contents of my refrigerator!!!

Also, the Goober stuff I got that was expired:

Love you all!