Monday, December 26, 2005

christmas in corea (oooo i just pissed off about 48 million koreans)

what a weekend it has been. to bring you quickly through the series of events:

~friday night was spent downtown at watermelon sugar
~we had a very outback christmas eve dinner followed by a night at everyone's favorite korean night club, booby booby
~it was a lazy christmas day consisting of a super-good brunch at my place and a special screening of napoleon dynamite, followed by an outing at friend bar, dinner at kimbap nara, and a trip to hunter bar (a tiny bar around the corner from my apartment)

and now i'll break it down a little bit for you: the funny thing about this weekend is that it turned out exactly how i hoped it would. why is that funny? because i wasn't hoping it would be like anything in particular, i just wanted to do random things and have fun, which i did. i wasn't even expecting to do the christmas brunch, but i'm so glad that's how the day turned out. any special things to remember? let's see... i'm slowly building up my clothing collection via trips to booby booby. since this is the place that i lost my camera at, i've taken it upon myself to make up for what was lost... i still have a long way to go, but thus far, from past visits i've acquired a scarf, a pink hat, a bright red soccer tshirt that says "be the reds," and the latest addition is a santa claus hat wtih blinking lights. of course most of you would consider this "stealing," but i assure you that most of these items were abandoned at tables or entrances with their owners somewhere far away in the city of daejeon.

here is chris, alisun's friend from home who's visiting for 3 weeks, after our dinner at outback, hanging out with korean guys in a hot tub:

and who knew kimchi was a champion jenga player? we were all quite impressed when, after the game was set up, kimchi ran up to it, started sniffing, and plucked a piece right out.

and here he is with his winning piece

alisun tried the same thing after, but it ended up toppling over. must suck to know that a chihuahua has better strategy than you do.

because we wanted to keep the streak of going out and were denying the fact that we had to work the day after christmas and had no days off, melissa, tom, and i decided to check out friend bar, a bar fairly close to my place that's on the top floor of a fairly tall building. it was really nice inside with an awesome view. after that we went to kimbap nara and shared bibimbap, kimchi mandu, and chamchi kimbap and the bottle of wine we shamelessly brought in to drink there. and we weren't ready to end the night there, so we went to one of the tiny hole-in-the-wall bars right around the corner from me to have a beer. it wasn't at all a crazy night out, but it was definitely a nice way to wind down from the weekend.

all in all, a very fun weekend- i got a little bit of the christmas feeling, but also did some things to make it feel very korean too, and it was nice to have no expectations that the weekend would have to measure up to in my mind. i'm hoping for the same "no expectations let's have fun" weekend next weekend, which happens to be my birthday AND new year's eve. assaaaa!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

and steph will too!

it's official, steph and katherine are both coming to visit. assaaaaa!

anyway, i'd like to tell you a little bit about the blackout of 2005. there i was sitting in kimbap nara after work, getting ready to enjoy my chamchi kimbap (actually it hadn't even made it to the table) when the power went out. i figure it was probably from the giant heater they had in the middle of the place. but that didn't stop business from being carried on as normal, because the guy was midway to my table and didn't even hesitate in his step to deliver the food to my table. so i sat in the darkness eating and thinking "well, this is bizarre." that's it, no high point to the story, i just found it to be an overall amusing experience, sitting in the dark eating kimbap.

in other news, i just got back from the store... i made purchases that will ensure a very sugary christmas for all of my kids today, so i can release them in all of their sugar-high madness to their next classes... i love being the evil foreign teacher.

and now you may be asking "tanya, what do your christmas plans entail?" and i can proudly announce... i have no clue. my friends and i have no aspirations to make this a very christmasy christmas- i think we all tired ourselves out after all of that thanksgiving cooking. so we're probably going to maybe get together for a little $5 gift exchange, or maybe go out to dinner, or maybe just go out and have fun... perhaps we'll do all three. at this point, it's just our goal to have fun, and i'm ok with that. same thing goes for new year's eve. i keep forgetting that i will be 23 and still i don't have any huge plans for that weekend. so class, what have we learned so far? that my friends and i have no idea what we're going to do, but sometimes things are more fun when you don't plan anything.

happy hollendaise all.

Monday, December 19, 2005

katherine does korea

so this is a story about a little girl named katherine, who will be visiting the first week of april, 2006! i didn't even realize she'd be able to visit until last week when she announced she had enough money... and she purchased her ticket yesterday. so now is the time to get excited! and what's even more awesome is it will be almost like a trailer 13 reunion (minus certain girls in africa) because steph found a cheap flight from thailand for the same time! i'll be twice as excited when it's official and steph also has her plane ticket purchased. i just don't want to get over-excited in case something goes wrong with that, but i just keep thinking how great it's gonna be having not one, but two friends visiting at the same time. so what's the first thing i plan on showing them? our beloved j-rock, because secretly i think they're going to love it because it's so much like trashy johnny k's.

and i'm sure this is the kind of madness we're gonna have when they get in, which was the typical scene on any given night in trailer 13:

of course, i don't have a couch or coffee table that we can randomly break out into dance on, so my bed is gonna have to do. and there's always the noraebang for all of our couch needs.

Friday, December 16, 2005

little things that make my day

so i had one of those great weeks where i love all of my students, and mostly it came from these little things that just make my day. for example, one class that i won't be teaching after next week because they're moving to junior high wasn't too happy to hear that they're going to have a new teacher. one even went as far as to tell me to go to the principal with a knife and tell her i must keep the class. a little scary, yes, but the sentiment behind it was nice.

and then today i got a christmas card from another student that i won't be teaching after next week that was very nice. looked like she put a lot of effort into it, and her english was pretty good in the letter, also. i just had to take a picture of it to show people back home.




it's kind of hard to read what she wrote, but it says:

"To: Tanya Smith. <3 (teacher) in cursive next to this it says "I love you" surrounded by hearts

Hi, Miss Tanya Smith

I'm Bella. Thank you for teaching me till now.
Well, we'll can't see each other, I'm so sad.
But I believe that we can see each other later
If we are still alive until 20 years or more,
Maybe one day, we can meet, right? Anyway I'll really miss you then and bye!

Merry Christmas"

almost too cute. anyway, if there are any teachers out there who are finding themselves in my situation (end of the "term" with a few classes left and a finished book), i highly recommend showing the class "the santa clause" with tim allen. most of the kids hadn't seen it or even heard of it, but they all loved it, no matter what their age was. a nice, safe movie for kids, even junior high age, who won't feel like their intelligence is being insulted by being shown a family/kids movie because it's pretty funny.

fa ra ra ra ra.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

my post to appease celeste's nagging

dear diary,

i sat next to billy today in class. he had a really cool new spongebob t-shirt. i was going to pass a note to him asking if he wanted to sit next to me in art, but we had to go out for recess. i love him 4-ever.


but seriously, folks... i don't have a ton to update on. i brought kimchi to the vet this morning for the last of his shots (yay!) then i came home a little worried because my vet said to bring him back if he has an allergic reaction to the rabies shot. so now i'm going to be paranoid until the day is over. awesome. i'm sure he's fine though... i can't really see him right now because he downed a bottle of soju and is crawling into the toilet... cute little guy, that one is.

my vet also asked if i wanted to get him castrated (seriously that's the word he used) sometime in the future... i'm sure korea's vets are wonderful and all, but i told him i'm gonna save that for america. secretly, i'm planning on making a little bach of kimchis when i come home for some cross-cultural puppies.

this weekend was fun. the foreigners soccer club had their annual christmas party at k.o.p, so a lot of people went out for it, resulting in a pretty crowded bar. naturally alisun and i (basically everyone else was sick so they stayed home) hung around till about 6:45 in the morning (seriously, who are we?) with maybe 4 other people.

on saturday we went to alisuns for a day-long feast... we just kept making everything in stages- fruit and yogurt, then hash browns, then eggs, then baguettes with olive oil and sauce, then hot chocolate. nice relaxing day (i feel like i say that about every weekend). and yesterday melissa, alisun, and i decided to take a random city bus and get off at the end of the line and see where it would take us. nothing too exciting though, we ended up in koondong, which is just another fun little area (where santa claus the bar is) so we did a little bit of shopping, wandered around looking for this place where they have a pizza buffet for 7,000 won that includes a salad bar. we couldn't find it though, and just ended up taking a taxi to pizza hut. i've said it before and i'll say it again... man i love being a turtle. no that's not right. i meant to say i'm so korean it hurts.

then we made a trip to the grocery store to get some food for tom, who must have some sort of flu because he's basically bed-ridden. everyone ended up getting sick this week- melissa's finally getting over her bronchitis, tom's stuck in bed, and alisun and i battled colds during the week (we're so brave) what can i say, 'tis the season of kids with green snot bubbles coming out of their noses. those little vermin are the ones that get us sick- them and their "don't cover your mouths when you cough, don't wash your hands after the bathroom or EVER, and above all make sure you aim your face right at teacher when you sneeze, and then pick up teacher's bottle of water and drink from it."

Sunday, December 04, 2005


had a nice little surprise this weekend! at about midnight on friday night/saturday morning i got a text from sean saying "snow! get into it!"- looked outside and... this is what i saw:

that definitely helped me get a little more into the holiday spirit, so i took some pictures of it from my apartment window. i went to bed thinking "oh well, it's not gonna stick, but at least i got to see the first snow of the season." woke up this morning, didn't even bother looking outside until alisun called and said "have you looked outside?" well, i looked outside, and this is what i saw...!

turns out it did stick- we must've gotten 2 or 3 inches. it was even cooler that we went shopping downtown today and it was snowing lightly pretty much the whole day, and it's snowing pretty steadily right now. completely awesome when you're not even expecting it!

(alisun and tom enjoying the snow downtown)

today definitely had that nice, cozy holiday feel. we started at starbucks and enjoyed peppermint mochas while listening to christmas music, and then i was pleasantly surprised that most of the stores were also decorated and playing christmas music! christmas music and lights completely make the christmas season for me. we went to the dollar store where i got a little charlie brown christmas tree, and a small set of lights and decorations for it... completely gaudy, but that's why i love it. it's only about a foot high, but i still got into the holiday spirit and played christmas music while i set it up... it's sitting on my desk now, looking quite beautiful... ok ok, at least it was set up with love, that's all that matters. i'd take pictures of it, but my camera battery is dead. it's a nice addition to the other christmas lights i put up in my room and the $1 stocking i also got today.

anyway, i've found out (as i'd already had the hunch) that there's nothing better on a cold wintery day than getting some ssamgyeopsal while sitting on the warm ondol floor. made the day that much better for me. plus, we hit the jackpot in choosing the place, because their sidedishes were nothing short of awesome.

(alisun, tom, and kate)

mmm, i feel like it's been a while since i posted. i didn't even talk about our thanksgiving feast last week, but it turned out rather well. i think there were 11 or 12 of us, and we had all sorts of food. and of course, like any normal thanksgiving, we had to end the night in the noraebang. i just put the pictures up on (if you lost the link)... it was a fun night.

ok i figure the best way to end this snow post is to quote salsa from the text message i just received: "i slipped outside. now i'm sitting on frozen mandu to numb my ass. i <3 korea."

p.s. i've officially been in korea for four months exactly- time sure does fly.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

tanya's thanksgiving list

ok, even though it's friday and technically no longer thanksgiving in korea (duh, it's an american holiday), i still have about 15 minutes to make this post and have it up in time going by the time back home before thanksgiving is officially over. well, i guess it doesn't matter anyway, because i'm celebrating thanksgiving with my friends tomorrow. i was feeling a bit down just because i knew that basically my whole family was together and i was on the other side of the world- a little bit of homesickness, yes, but not so bad that i hated it here and wanted to go home. plus, a year away from holiday routines will make them that much more appreciated when i'm back home. i'm still really excited to spend thanksgiving with my friends tomorrow and i thought i'd be corny and put into words everything i'm really thankful to have:

-my parents and the fact that i couldn't have asked for 2 better ones!
-my sisters and the fact that it's awesome that they're also my best friends (and the fact that celeste admitted she was weepy off and on today because i wasn't there)
-the friends i've made here- i'd read so much that it's hard to make "real" friends here because most people are only here for a year and they're only in it for themselves and they're really just drinking buddies and blah blah blah... but it's amazing that not only did i make "real" friends, but they are so much like my friends back home
-naturally, this follows with my college friends: especially the ryan hall people and the trailer broads
-of course friends back home (stand by me, anyone?)
-my dogs back home
-my dog here!
-no more college stress
-the feeling of ultimate freedom
-the non-existent need to set my alarm in the mornings
-an opportunity to save up money for evil college loans for an entire year
-carrefour and e-mart and their magnificant prices and the fact that they have just about everything i need and haven't yet had to make a trip to walmart or costco (that'll end tomorrow when we go thanksgiving shopping)
-food is so cheap here
-"there are no christmas decorations here" is a blatant lie- the department stores are pretty good about that
-the fact that i chose daejeon and not seoul or some other city- seoul is just too dirty and too crowded
-ondol heating (kimchi, if he could write, would also want this to be on the list- see picture below)
-internet in my apartment
-torrents and the opportunity to catch up on my favorite current shows
-ajumas who will feed you at the jjimjilbang
-clothes that fit here (everyone said i'd have such a hard time finding pants and shoes and jackets if you're a certain height or shoe size... i've had no problems thus far)
-and most importantly, my coffee maker- i couldn't have done this without you.

and there it is, tanya's little thanksgiving. i'm sure i've left off a lot of things, but that's all i can think of for now.

and now, a picture of kimchi sprawled out on the floor enjoying the ondol heating- when the heat goes on, there he is, arms and legs stretched out as far as possible, belly on the floor:

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

southern dogs

the reason why westminster winners aren't from the south:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

fun korean games

so i think i've found my new favorite game to play here in korea. i think i'll call it the "answer your handuh-pone" game. it's simple to play: when your cell rings and you don't recognize the number, answer it. nine times out of ten it'll be the wrong number. if that's the case, the caller is most likely korean and can't speak a lick of english. when the caller responds with "yeoboseyo?" say "hello" again. count how many times this goes back and forth, and try to beat your previous record- you'll be shocked with the results! bonus points if you hear a "ney?" at one time or another.

in other news, i have a few more pictures to put up. last night we got together for pizza, beer, and movies. the movie part didn't happen because there was a lot of talking going on, and we ended up taking our business to the noraebang behind my apartment, which i suspect might also be a brothel of some sort because when alisun went to buy some more time, one of the girls thought she was trying to buy her. it was downstairs and kind of shady and one of the rooms had pictures of naked girls. strange. oh but one thing that's funny about us is the fact that we can't do anything normally. oh no, we have to go all out and get dressed up. tom put on one of my cloth belts, looking a bit like the karate kid, and then put his bike hemet on over that (remember kids, we were within walking distance of this noraebang.) alisun put a skirt on and looked like a school girl with her knee socks and blazer. aaron was sporting a bandana, gangsta style, and melissa had one of my weird crocheted hats. and i ended up feeling like a 2 year old girl who always has to get her way so her parents let her wear whatever she wants, because i think i was wearing every article of clothing i owned. hard to see in the pictures, but i was wearing my chihuahua socks, which peeked out of my sequined shoes, jeans with a white peasant skirt over that, a long-sleeved shirt with my new sweater shirt over that, and my purple velvet blazer over that. and a black hat to boot. seriously koreans must think foreigners are the weirdest people ever.

as i'm sitting here typing, i'm enjoying some wonderful western-style food. my parents brought some maple syrup with them, and i finally got all of the pancake making ingredients. whipped them up this morning and they're like HEAVEN. seriously, not to toot my own horn, but i'm gonna anyway, i don't think i've ever made better pancakes. the added banana was a nice touch, also. it's a nice treat seeing how i was really looking forward to getting som pancakes last week when we had the breakfast buffet at the marriott, but i was seriously disappointed with the pancakes... tasted too much like pancake mix, and not even a good mix at that. oddly enough i ended up having a korean/japanese breakfast of rice, raw salmon, and bulgogi. funny how things like that work. i also picked up some nestle quick and added that to my coffee this morning so i also have a nice chocolate-y coffee going on.

it's funny how the western thing is going though. i am eating a lot of normal foods, as well as korean meals, but the "normal" foods i'm eating are pretty limited. i do enjoy a good subway sandwich once in a while, make pasta here and there. most of the time it's me and triangle kimbap. i actually went to the outback right next door to me the other night... only took me over three months to get there... but it was nice because i was actually having a craving for a pina colada the other day and lo and behold they had that on the menu. i had to order "two pina coladas... one for each hand. let's set sail with captain morgan oh we'll never leave dry land" sorry i always do that. anyway, i did have to order two because the first one was so good i downed it within like 1 minute- i don't think the waiter even left the table because he was sticking around for food orders and so i got to order another before he left. anyway, i also ordered some cheese fries, which i couldn't really do. i'm not that big on fried foods anyway, but now that it's pretty much completely out of my diet, it's only a matter of seconds after eating it that i feel like i'll throw up if i eat any more. same thing happened with the pizza last night, it was actually good pizza, but everytime i picked up a piece to eat it i'd get that same "i might throw this up later" feeling. nice, huh?

ok well here are some pictures from last night.

darth tom ordering an hour at the desk

alisun and melissa rockin' out, don't remember the song though

aaron's born in the usa (or canada)

smells like teen spirit

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005


ok, here are some pictures my parents just sent me that were taken on their camera. enjoy!

i have exorcised the demons

the weekend has been nice and refreshing- i was mega-tired on friday when my parents left, which i think turned out for the best because i was too tired to really let it sink in that i wouldn't see them for another nine months or to really miss them. their visit took a lot out of me because i'd have to get up in the morning, do stuff with them, go teach, come home, do more stuff, get a little bit of sleep, get up and do it all over again. i think i was averaging 5-6 hours/night. but it was A LOT of fun- my friends are now in love with my parents, and i'm glad my parents got to see everyday life over here. we did some nice relaxing stuff- dinner at an italian restaurant that actually has decent food, lazy starbucks breakfasts, a night at the german beer garden, halloween at j-rock, plus some fun korean stuff- quite a few korean meals, a morning at gyeryong mountain, and the NORAEBANG which was by far one the most fun nights here so far. it was actually my first noraebang experience as well (don't know why it took so long to get there) but it was such a great release (for those of you that don't know, the noraebang is like private karaoke rooms, you pay by the hour and the room is all yours). there was some major couch dancing going on, i felt like i was right back in trailer 13.

thursday night i went to seoul with my parents to spend the night so they could fly out the next morning. we had a major griswold moment on the train. picture us looking at the tickets, thinking it said car 4, so we get in and realize we're supposed to be in car 14... meanwhile my parents look like they have enough suitcases to last a couple of years in korea, so we have to drag all of our luggage through 10 cars on a moving train. three tall whities moving through packed cars of stone-faced korean buinessmen... and it wasn't good news that my mom was leading us, because she is notorious for losing it at unfortunate times and crumpling to the floor in tears and giggles. there were a couple of close calls, but she kept moving and finally we made it to our table where she collapsed in a laughing fit. quite an achievement for her, i must say.

that night i had even better italian food than i had earlier in the week, we ate at the italian place in the marriott and had some awesome pasta and pizza with artichoke and mushrooms. ARTICHOKES- the same stuff they sell for $30 in a jar here. it was heaven. i didn't get much sleep that night, either, and passed out on the train going back to daejeon the next morning, then was very happy to realize when i got home that i had 2 hours to nap before i had to go teach. i fell in a DEEP sleep and felt like i was supposed to be getting an entire night's-worth when my alarm woke me up, and grudgingly i went into work after a cup of coffee and an americano.

anyway, onto the weekend... we all stayed in friday night where i got some much needed sleep, and yesterday alisun, melissa, and i went to gyeryong mountain to see donghak temple. they really appreciated it, especially melissa who hadn't seen anything outside of the city yet. then we went to a traditional dance that rika had tickets to at the performance hall, which was awesome to see. i thought it was mainly going to be dancing but there was a lot of drumming which i was really into. they also had 2 small bands at the bottom of either side of the stage, one consisting of traditional drums and the other consisting of a flute/horn sounding thing and some sort of string thing. i really enjoyed it because i hadn't seen any traditional dancing or anything here yet. after that we got some food from a restaurant, not really sure what the name of it was, but they cook rice noodles, chicken, cabbage, sweet potatoes, garlic, and lots of hot sauce in the middle and you wrap it up in a leaf of lettuce and eat it. it was pretty good. we called it a night- most of us were done in from the weekend and going out with my parents.

today turned out very nicely though. i thought it was gonna be crappy because it was kind of rainy and cloudy, and the plans originally were to play ultimate frisbee with alisun and then go to the citizen's league soccer game. i was surprised that alisun called to ask if i still wanted to play frisbee because i thought it would be rained out, but it wasn't. and we all decided not to go to the soccer game, which meant i didn't have to leave ultimate early, and we played 2 games. so i've never played ultimate before, and i know it's not brain surgery, but the rules are gonna take some getting used to- i think i played decently, made some good catches but basically just tried running around to look like i was playing. i enjoy running so that worked out well. seriously, though, it was nice because while we were playing with guys none of them were overly competitive and they gave me a chance to make a few catches. anyway, the people are all very nice, i'd met some of them before on random nights out but got to meet even more which was cool. and i got to show off my killer bruises from my night at the noraebang. i was a serious tambourine player that night and as a result i have a series of bruises that run up each thigh. they look pretty bad because my family bruises very easily. people couldn't get over them. secretly i like to pretend i got them from being a competitive ultimate player.

after that, i went with alisun and this girl grace to get some bibimbap, and then we couldn't hold it in any longer and had to get some noraebang action. it was a lot of fun (again). grace had to leave a little early, so then it was just me and alisun, but we sang it up like we were in front of thousands. good times. then i still had pent up energy so i ran home. and i feel like i could run some more (it's been a few weeks, no wonder i have all this energy now). but instead i have to do some laundry. and watch the latest episodes of the o.c. and the office.

Monday, October 31, 2005

merry christmas to me!

ok, so i take back what i said in the last post about not being able to post pictures, because i ended up celebrating christmas a little early this year! my parents decided they'd get me my christmas present here, which was (trumpet fanfare, chuseyo)... a digital camera! the met me this morning and said we could go shopping for one and that way they wouldn't have to mail me my christmas present, works out well for everyone.

anyway, we went to donghak-sa (the temple for buddhist nuns in gyeryong-san national park). my parents enjoyed the scenery, and it was a beautiful day for being in the mountains. boy we beat the crowd, though. we got there and it was just a few hikers here and there, then around 11 or so, the tour buses started pulling in so people were coming in droves. we came back, gave kimchi his lunch, then went to carrefour to do some camera shopping. i'm quite happy with the results- a 5.2 megapixel fuji camera that was only about $18 more than the camera i lost. and the camera i lost wasn't anywhere near as nice- it didn't have a lens cover or anything. pretty nice, thanks mom and dad!

kind of sucked that i had that "too bad i have to work today" feeling, especially because i don't teach until 5:30 on mondays but since they added the daily 3-3:30 meetings with 1 or 2 korean co-teachers, i had to go in even earlier and then knew i'd end up with some time to kill. would have been nice if i had remembered to tell the korean co-teacher last friday that i wouldn't be able to make the meeting today, then it sucked even more when i got there and she asked if we really needed the meeting because really weekly meetings are a bit too much. so, i did some quick planning and went back to my parents motel room and relaxed until i had to teach.

after teaching we went out for dinner- ssamgyeopsal- yum! i was actually surprised that my mom ended up liking the bibimbap we had for dinner last night more than this, because i really thought this was going to be a meal she was going to rave over. she liked it, just didn't get the raving i was hoping for. still, i left with my own stomach extremely content.

ok enough blabbing, i'm getting really tired and it's time to post pictures, per my mom's request:

my mom and kimchi

my mom playing tug of war with the toy she got kimchi- it's almost as big as he is

my dad making his best "blue steel"