Wednesday, September 28, 2005

teacher, are you a drunk?

i really hate posting multiple times in one day, but i guess today is just an exception. seriously, sometimes these kids crack me up. before one of my classes started today, i was drinking from my water bottle. one of my students, maria, looked at my bottle and gestured like she wanted some. i said "what, you want some water?" and she nodded. i said "i can't give it to you, look at my nose, it is red," meaning that i have a cold and i shouldn't give her my water bottle. then she said "why, you drink wine?" i thought that was pretty funny, and i said "nooo, i am sick, i have a cold." and she said "no, it is soju." so i gave it to her to smell to prove it was not soju. of course she pretended it was the strongest stuff she'd ever smelled and said "teacher is drinking soju!" oh, i love the english skills of my students...

oh, and for some reason another student came into a different class with a bag of sweet potatoes. i asked why she had it and she said their korean teacher wanted her to bring it into class to share with everyone, including myself. none of the students were sure why either, but we snacked away on boiled sweet potatoes. yeah, it was nice, but still can't figure out why the teacher thought it was necessary that we eat sweet potatoes in class. whatever, i won't argue with free food.

old yeller vs. cujo

the current subject in my "themes for today" class is louis pasteur and the invention of the rabies vaccination. i wanted to get them to understand rabies a little bit more and maybe get some fun out of it, so i was thinking of showing them parts of old yeller. unfortunately, i can't find old yeller in stores or anywhere to download onto my computer... so what if i showed them cujo instead? old yeller and cujo are both feel-good movies about loveable rabid dogs- and they both die in the end (sorry if i spoiled it for anyone who hasn't seen these movies/read the books, but you knew it would happen). they're basically the same story, right?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

(enter witty subject here)

i really should just turn this entire blog into a food diary, because i feel like that's all i really write about. i went to dinner last night with rika and kelley, who both work right next door to me, to get samgyeopsal, which rika had raved about before. she says it's her favorite korean meal. basically what you do is grill marinated strips of pork, along with the various veggies they give you- we had tofu, potatoes, garlic, onions, kimchi, mushrooms, plus some greens that were sitting in a marinade. once everything is good and grilled, you take 1 or 2 leaves of lettuce, put a bed of the greens on that, follow with pork and whatever toppings you want, and of course i had to top it off with red pepper paste... a korean meal just isn't the same without it. next comes the fun and messy part- you fold the leaves up and make it as small as possible... and shove the entire thing in your mouth. no girly bites allowed- this is an all or nothing deal. didn't realize that at first though and rika had to correct me! i'm so glad you don't need proper manners for this meal, because i am one of the sloppiest eaters ever- i felt right at home just shoving the food into my mouth. good thing i had plenty of practice packing those little debbie swiss cake rolls into my mouth in junior high (oh who am i kidding- i probably did it in high school too. and maybe a few times in college. but i am NOT ashamed to admit it). i remember the lunch table used to just sit and watch as i shoved as many of those rolls as possible into my mouth, and then mrs. bassett, the lunch lady, would walk by and roll her eyes and say "oh, nice..." ahh, memories.

anyway, samgyeopsal... i didn't take any pictures of the meal (you can all bring your jaws back up to normal position), but never fear, i googled for images of samgyeopsal and found a picture that pretty much looks like what we had, give or take a few side dishes... oh, and our grill didn't really look like this either:

yeah, so i kind of think of it as korean tacos, may not be the same ingredients (obviously there's no cheese or sour cream or tortillas involved), but the idea is the same- meat and veggies folded together to create flavor bliss. seriously, there must be something in the chemistry of the spices or something, because when it all comes together it just tastes so good.

oh i had my first real "duh" moment today... but i blame it on my head cold. today was going smoothly to start. ran about 4 or 5 miles (i wasn't timing myself too well), was feeling pretty good about the day because i love my tuesday kids. i even wrote an email home saying "hooray i think i've conquered my cold." left at 4:10 to walk to school, got there at 4:30, sat down and did some planning. started to feel my cold take over again, this time a lot of pressure in my ears. then 4:40 rolled around and a few minutes later i started getting confused and felt really out of it. wait, don't i have class at 4:40? what time do i start on tuesdays? how long have i been here and why do i have to go to class so soon? i was just about to get up when i heard a voice from behind me... "teacher, it is time for class." good ol' martin, came to get his teacher who was at the moment a lost cause. i looked at the clock- a little past 4:45. so yeah we're supposed to be there a half hour before our first class starts, and i got there 5-10 minutes before class. oh, that's right, i leave at 3:50 on tuesdays and thursdays! not a whole 20 minutes later at 4:10! oops, i hope the office people didn't see that. i played it cool and said "i know, i am coming" and followed him into my classroom, avoiding eye contact with the secretaries and vice-principal at the front desk. i hate being late and i hate disappointing employers so i hope that went unnoticed. i already felt bad enough because last week one of the powers-that-be must have sent one of the secretaries in to remind me it was time for class- i wasn't late, it was still about a minute until class was supposed to start, but i usually go to my classroom right when or just before class starts (in my defense, i'm not the only teacher that does it). i'm not even sure why i do it- i'm not late, but not exactly starting on time. and generally i'm a very punctual person. whoa that just reminded me of aladdin... "you're very.... punctual." "punctual?" "punctual." anyway, i always keep an eye on the clock but for some reason i always get really focused on planning at the last minute and forget my time.

but the important thing was that my classes went smoothly today and as soon as i started i no longer felt out of it, which is good. but right now i'm playing doctor for myself (if kate can do it for a ton of african children, which can't i?) and drinking green tea, figured it'd be good for my throat. too bad i'm going to bed after this and green tea contains caffeine. just don't tell my body, maybe i'll forget that caffeine keeps you awake and i'll get to sleep easily. at least oprah's on and i can keep myself entertained until i get drowsy. man i'm really babbling... yeah that means it's time to post this mo-fo.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


i finally went to donghak-sa today. the temple is located in gyeryong-san national park, which is basically a huge mountain with 15 peaks and 2 dozen temples inside. gyeryong-san translates into "chicken dragon mountain" because the peaks look like the top of a chicken's head and the twisting of the ridges looks like a dragon's spine. great place to go for a day trip, like i did, or even for the weekend. the park is absolutely GORGEOUS. the weather was perfect, also- it's getting nice and cool and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. perfect day for being in the mountains.

the history of donghak-sa is actually kind of interesting- according to my copy of moon handbooks south korea, it was founded in 724 by sangwon josa, originally built for monks but is now one of korea's few temples that function as study centers and teaching institutions for buddhist nuns. i don't have much experience with seeing monks, so it was even more interesting to see buddhist nuns with shaved heads. i also got to hear some chants, which was very cool.

after i had my fill of the temple, i went for a hike, because the mountain has quite a few trails. i chose the one leading to the peak of gwaneum-bong, which was a few kilometers, but it ended up being some heavy-duty hiking compared to last week! last week we were basically walking on trails with wooden steps. here the trails are a bunch of rocks kind of laid into steps with some really steep/narrow sections- felt like real hiking to me. i didn't actually make it up to the peak because i started getting tired and thinking "it would suck if i got overheated and fell or something because i'm alone, and if i fell i'd probably go tumbling right over the side" (and there were some steep parts.) next time i'll have to make sure i eat more than carbs and sugars before i leave (lunch was dunkin' donuts- a bagel and donut with coffee) and that i get plenty of water, because there were definitely some awesome hiking trails and i'd like to take some pictures from the peaks.

the park also has PLENTY of restaurants and gift shops/stands. i went to one gift shop and got some incense and a holder, because my sink has been making my apartment smell kind of funky. i think i might need to get some bleach or draino or something for it. i don't think it's clogged, at least the drain is clear, but it may help with the smell and anything that may be hiding in the pipe.

the bus ride back was a little long because there was quite a bit of traffic/construction, and i didn't get back till after 7 i think (i didn't leave for the park until 1 or 2 i think.) so i was thinking of taking a korean class today that is offered at that church, but it started at 7 so i guess that's out of the question. and next week is another 3-day weekend and i'm hoping to do some real traveling so i probably won't be around for the next class either.

in other news, i'm trying to lay low this weekend. i think i've got the beginning of a cold, which sucks because i hate getting sick and i pride myself in the fact that i'm generally a healthy person. but i can feel my sinuses acting up and i'm feeling a little sluggish. so i opted to stay in last night and i'll probably do the same tonight. that way it won't hurt that much getting up tomorrow morning. i'm thinking of going for a run, checking out that church service at noon, and then maybe a trip to the jjimjilbang later on- i could go for some of those healthy drinks they make there. yum. and one of those massaging chairs.

anyway, here are some pictures i took today:

one of the buildings of the temple, a buddhist nun praying at the altar, part of the hiking trail up gwaneum-bong. and unseun waterfall. anyway, it was beautiful day, and i think it's settled that i'm going to move to the mountains.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

chunguk, i'm in chunguk...

so a few days ago i was introduced to the wondeful food chain called kimbap heaven, but if you want to get technical and read the actual korean words on the sign, it's kimbap chunguk. there's one near timeworld, but supposedly they're all over the city. yesterday i trekked out (ok, it's like a 5-10 minute walk) and picked up a roll for lunch, thinking "boy it would be nice if i could find a kimbap place closer to my apartment."

2 great finds today! first, i wanted to go to lunch and decided to try this really small place behind my apartment. walked in and the first thing i saw was a man sitting at the kimbap counter, making those magnificant little rolls. yes, now i can get kimbap quickly! anyway, i ordered my bibimbap, and looked at the menu on the wall. maybe some day i'll be able to understand what the items are- i could pick out bibimbap, dolsot bibimbap, and a few more rice dishes, but that was about it. i looked at the price for bibimbap- only 3,000 won! and if you get it dolsot, it's only 500 more. that definitely beats the price i was paying at that restaurant next door.

wondering if this place had a name, i found the sign... kimbap nara. i figured it must be some sort of chain like kimbap heaven, turns out i was right- it translates into kimbap land. pretty cool i finally checked this place out and made the discovery, but too bad it took so long!

Monday, September 19, 2005

happy chuseok

even though foreigners have little reason to celebrate, i couldn't help feeling a little bit korean after this weekend. last night i went to a jjimjilbang (kind of like a day spa, open 24 hours) with alisun, rika, neesa, and pat. it was definitely a relaxing way to spend a sunday night. i'm going to explain this a little, just because i wasn't too sure what was going on in the beginning, and i'm sure there may be people who want to know the process. it cost 6,000 won, and they give you a t-shirt, shorts, and 2 towels along with a locker key. you bring your key to a locker to put your shoes in, then head upstairs to the women's or men's floor with your things. there you give your key to another desk worker and she gives you yet another key to a designated locker, where you change into said tshirt and shorts. you bring your book or whatever else you want to relax with and a towel and head to either the men's, women's, or family floor where there are different hot rooms, plus some ice rooms to cool off. there are (bamboo?) mats on the floor along with wood neck rests, and you lay there and sweat. i went into a room that was over 80 degrees celsius. boy it felt good. alternated different rooms, and tried out a foot massager (it hurts, these rod things come up and squish different parts of the bottoms of your feet, but it's really worth it) and a massaging chair (it was amazing). these machines cost money though (i think 1,000 won each), but that's pretty good considering the low cost of everything. they have a snack bar too and neesa got this amazing drink they make for you, made with vinegar and fruit, and it tastes really sweet but is really good for you to keep hydrated. we were on the family floor because pat was with us, but alisun wanted to go up to the women's floor because she was friends with a woman who worked at a little restaurant there.

so the girls went upstairs (yeah, there was a lot of nudity- we saw a woman getting that suction therapy with 2 big suction cups you know where...) and we went into the restaurant, where the woman was thrilled to see alisun, made us sit down (it was a place where you sit on the floor), and made us food. we had the usual side dishes, a really good potato soup, pajeon (green onion pancakes- soooo good), and marinated pieces of beef (not bulgogi, but close, forget the name). to top it off, everything was free- they said it was because of chuseok, but alisun says she always gets free food. the women loved having us there, they spoke english fairly well, and i got more bizarre "you look like" comments. first, i was surprised one of them told me i looked like barbie. this is the second time i've heard this now. they swear it's the face, even though the hair is different. i still disagree. a few others agreed that i look like nastassja kinski. we couldn't even remember what she looked like. when we met up with pat, he laughed at the barbie thing, and said usually they just say the first western name that comes to mind- once he got antonio banderas, and i can assure you that with short light brown curly hair and blue eyes, he is nowhere near looking like antonio banderas.

i also got tinkerbell for the second time, but this time it was from alisun, who says it's more because i look like julia roberts playing tinkerbell. i can understand that one. just funny how i get the same comments over and over.

so all in all, the jjimjilbang was very relaxing- i think that's going to become a weekly thing for me.

today i went hiking at bomun-san, a mountain really close to (it might even be in) the city. rika's church (yes, i was excited to hear she went to an international church, so i'll probably start going there) was sponsoring a trip along with some other international communities, mainly colleges and the "scientists and engineers members, international," and the city itself. the three of us were expecting just an organized hiking trip, but it turned out to be even better because we found out it is an annual traditional culture festival where they gave us free lunch along with traditional korean food, the chance to dress in hanbok and take pictures, and play traditional games. it was a nice way to give the international community something to do on a korean holiday.

the hike was awesome, it felt sooo good to get out and do something physical. it was nice going with people, but it'll be even nicer to go again not with a huge group, because at some points it felt like i was in a cattle drive, moving quite slowly up. of course, the old korean ladies don't tolerate this, and they'll push you to the side with their walking sticks to get by. they really can do whatever they want in this country. i crushed one yesterday in the elevator doors because she was slowly walking in and i tried hitting door open but accidently hit door close, and she was stuck in the middle. she didn't seem mad though because she started talking to me and patting my shoulder- didn't understand what she was saying though. i think she was just riding for fun though because she was sitting at the steps as i walked in and got up when she saw me, and didn't select a floor. i had the opposite of that a few days earlier with an old lady who was in the elevator when i got in from my floor going down. she must have selected a bunch of floors to stop on, because we kept stopping at every floor, the door would open, and then close again. not to mention the fact that these were both large ladies who stood right in the middle with their walker or cane, and don't move to the side for you to get out, you kind of have to squeeze by. and they turn and stare right at you. meanwhile i'm just staring straight ahead pretending the floor selection is the most interesting thing i've ever seen and i'm not aware of the the fact that i am the focus of a crazy korean lady. it must be nice to be old in korea, doing whatever you please.

lunch wasn't korean, unfortunately. they had mcdonald's bulgogi burgers, tuna fish sandwiches, and vegetarian sandwiches. but it was ok, because right after they started the cultural exhibits. i got to watch people make pajeon, songpyeon, and even got to hammer with a rice cake mallet, which was fun. and i was really surprised today when i decided i did, after all, enjoy these "sweets." i don't know what made my tastes change, but i actually went back for seconds! guess i'm gettin more used to it.

we also met quite a few people, including rosemary, a really nice korean girl who went to college in chicago and didn't really speak with a korean accent, may, a vietnamese student, and riitta, a student from finland. may and riita are i think both studying at kaist, and rosemary is taking the semester off and living at home.

the thing that amazed me the most about today was the fact that most of the international community was either middle eastern or asian, and everyone was speaking in english as they were meeting each other, because english really is everyone's second language. something about these people communicating in a language they may not be entirely comfortable with just dumbfounded me and made me feel, as an american, a little lazy. even riitta and may are taking classes here in english, because that's the easiest way to make sure all of the foreign students understand the courses.

i'm feeling a little lazy and tired from the day (i had to get up at 6:30 to get ready and take a bus to the church to meet everyone), so if you want to see pictures from today, just go to

thank you and have a nice chuseok.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

disco stu doesn't advertise

first of all, celeste and diane are a couple of smart-asses. i got an email from them yesterday and this is what they sent:

we went to cin cin italiano last night, where i had my first korean pizza. they use brick fire ovens, so it was pretty nice. after that, we went to santa claus for 70s night. some of the highlights:

burn, baby, burn.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

my cup runneth over

went out with some random people last night, met even more random people. first stop was k.o.p, which is actually close to me so i was happy to be able to walk there. cover was 10,000 won, and they handed me a shot glass on my way in- unlimited shots of tequila- score! nothing says korea like shooting jose cuervo. maybe that explains why in the taxi on my way home the driver said "yeogi?" (here?) my brain wasn't quick enough to say "ne", and "si" was what ended up coming out. spanish is almost like korean, right?

i met a lot of foreigners, and i thought it was really random that one of the people i met was actually a guy i talked to at immigration a few weeks ago. small world. a group of us took a cab from k.o.p to j-rock, where the special was rum and coke for 3,000 won. are you kidding me? unlimited tequila AND cheap rum and coke all in one night in korea? they happen to be 2 of my 3 favorite kinds of liquor. i met some really cool people- turns out there are unsketchy foreigners here, which i was happy to discover. not all are overweight men in their mid-life crisis.

i danced quite a bit to some good ol' american songs, including "you shook me all night long," "paradise city", the grease remix, and "girls just wanna have fun" which, by the way, was kind of ironic because it was pretty much all girls dancing to that one (duh) and then there were some random korean men who just wanted to dance with the western girls, dancing to the side of us. but i guess they didn't understand the irony of the situation

so i was surprised when i looked at my watch and saw that it was after 5 am. granted, i didn't leave until 1:30 to actually go out, but time still flew, and i decided to call it a night. after some promises to and from people that we'll be calling each other, i got in a cab (which brings me to the "ne" vs "si" moment), stopped at 7-11 for my trusty triangle kimbap, got home and sent some emails ("hey family it's 5:30 and i just got home!!")

head off to bed at 6 am and unfortunately woke up at 10 for no particular reason, just couldn't sleep anymore. i really have to get used to sleeping in later, cause otherwise it's gonna kill me.

just got a call from alisun, a girl i met last night. apparently there's a group of people getting together for dinner, and then we're heading over to the 70s party at santa claus (another popular foreigner bar). not sure what i'm gonna wear. obviously i did some poor planning during my packing process, because i never stopped to consider that i might need clothes for a 70s party.

observation: it cracks me up how foreigners get around the city. it seems to be that they give locations by western food places. for example, as i was planning to meet chris (a person i didn't even know but johnny gave my number to so we could get together) at k.o.p, he gave me directions, saying it was close to the mcdonalds, starbucks, and dunkin' donuts. and this is the typical conversation i had last night with people (it happened more times than i can count):

foreigner: so, where do you work?
me: dunsan tower
foreigner: where is that?
me: you know where the subway is?
foreigner: yeah!!
me: i work in that building
foreigner: ohhh, i go there all the time, it must be nice to be so close to it!
me: i actually have yet to eat there.
foreigner: oh that'll change, soon you're going to be CRAVING western food.

we shall see.

oy i need a nap.

Friday, September 16, 2005

my family, ladies and gentlemen

i know i already mentioned how weird my family was, but i have the feeling i'm going to be continuing to do so for a long time now that i actually have the chance to document the proof.

exhibit a: in a recent family email, my sister was talking about how she'll be able to afford a plane ticket to come visit me. "Still not quite sure how I'm going to swing the plane ticket, but I'll find a way. Not sure if a corner in Big Flats would be lucrative enough, may have to go to Horseheads or Elmira. OH, or Corning, I could just hang out after work."

still not proof?

exhibit b: my mother's response: "Celeste, Maybe a mother-daughter team thing. Come and visit and we can go to Schenectady. We could do a killer business!"

and i shall end with some food for thought, brought to you in an email from my uncle:

changes made by the new german pope

it might bring mass attendance up... but schlitz?? where's the heineken? guess it'll only be brought out for christmas, easter, and of course first communion.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

so politically incorrect

korea can be so un-pc sometimes. case in point: i watched a korean documentary the other night about a mentally disabled dance group in england, so of course everyone in the group speaks english. as if the idea of a mentally disabled dance group isn't funny enough, you have to throw in the factor that it was being aired on a channel for english viewers, so they had to redub everything in english. of course they couldn't just take away the korean dialogue to play the original tracks. the result was a korean man doing the english voice of an already english-speaking guy with down's. and he took it upon himself to make the poor guy sound as stupid as humanly possible, complete with "duh's" and all. he really sounded like a stupid cartoon character- think scooby-dum, scooby-doo's cousin. and how could this possibly get even funnier? koreans love their laugh tracks here, so they added some laughs when the guy said something especially stupid, and some ooo's when his girlfriend with down's (also an english-speaking korean character actor) showed up and said she liked him because he was hot and sexy (which i'm pretty sure she never originally said, but the koreans decided would be interesting to add). and to top it off was the big "finale" where they showed the dance they'd been working so hard on.

oh this was the most entertaining hour in my life, and i'm pretty sure i'm going to hell because of it.

at least i know my family is going with me. for those of you who don't know, my family and i email each other as a group. you know you come from a weird family when your mom signs her emails "mama mama big boobs" (something she used to run around the house saying when we were little), your sister signs off with "poop and pee, out to see, love me" and your aunt signs hers "whorebitch." and now you might understand why i'm so weird.

and you should have heard what my mom told me to tell yung su when he kept insisting on calling every day. let's see if i can find it... oh yes, here it is: ""hey you dumb bastard, I'm not interested in you, you smelly breathed d**k balls!"

lovely, isn't she?

what's wrong with this picture?

ok kids, we're gonna play a new game called "you look at the pictures and tell me what's wrong."

picture 1:

picture 2:

give up? i got my chuseok gift today from school. as i unwrapped the present, i was excited to see that the box said "aroma body care" on it. but i opened it up and found that it was a good-sized bottle of bath oil. take a look at my bathroom again... what is missing? maybe i would have been better off with spam.

the picture of me holding the bath oil was multi-purpose, because i got a funny comment from a girl today who said "teacher... you look like tinkerbell" referring to my outfit. that really made me laugh.

in fact, a lot of things made me laugh today- i got to school in a really good mood, i think because i broke down and got starbucks coffee again- i really need my own coffee maker. anyway, i was really tired and out of it this morning (it was one of those days where i couldn't remember at the end of the shower if i actually washed my hair, so i washed it again) and thought i could use a walk, so i wandered around with my starbucks and that woke me up.

anyway... sometimes these kids really impress me. we played hangman in a class today, and a student, dan, chose his word. when it was discovered that there was a "u" in the word, a kid guessed "q" as another letter, and for some reason the logic impressed me. i thought it was even funnier when the word turned out to be "soluble," and for a second i had no idea where that came from until dan showed me that it was on the marker.

and sometimes these kids pick up on really funny phrases. i was making a class write a story about a picture in their workbook using the names that were listed under the picture. i was guiding them along telling them which person went with which name, but one was just labeled "young man." a student, jack, asked me which person the young man was, and i pointed to a man with a moustache (i swear this really was the young man, though). jack's response? "this is young man? this is nonsense!" and threw his hands up in the air in frustration. that got the whole class cracking up, myself included.

ok, i'm sure it was one of those "had to be there moments." oh well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

l'auberge espagnole

"when you first arrive in a city, nothing makes sense. everything's unknown, virgin. after you've lived here, walked these streets, you'll know them inside out, you'll know these people. once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1,000 times, it'll belong to you because you've lived there. that was about to happen to me, but i didn't know it yet.

urquinaona, which sounded like sioux, was added to the list of once bizarre-sounding names tucked into my brain. urquinaona slipped in next to honolulu, punxsutawney, piccadilly, massachusetts, saskatoon, machu piccu, it became normal and familiar.

later, much later, back in paris, each harrowing ordeal will become an adventure. for some idiotic reason, your most horrific experiences are the ones you most love to tell."

-l'aurberge espagnole

well said.

koreans and dating

ok i didn't think i was going to feel the need to have multiple postings today, but that's the way it turned out.

first of all, good news! i have a three-day weekend coming up, which i thought was a possibility because i knew it was a holiday weekend. i just wasn't sure if the school was closed until i asked today, because i wasn't even sure what the holiday really was. all i knew was the fact that it's called chuseok, and i remembered reading something about a harvest moon festival. but i just looked up the facts and this is what it's all about, according to

"The full harvest moon festival occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, and is similar to the American Thanksgiving holidays. The day before 14th and 16th of the 8th lunar month are also holidays, giving a total of three days off to allow people time to visit their hometowns. As the most important of all Korean holidays, during this period people jam the highways to visit their hometowns and family members. Similar to the lunar new year holidays, family members pay respect to their living relatives and visit the graves of their ancestors. Family members exchange gifts and play special games."

so it's kind of like korean thanksgiving. and i could tell something was happening this week for a few reasons. first, i went to timeworld on monday and all of the women working there were wearing hanbok, which is their traditional korean dress. second, all of the teachers have been a little more happy, and third, i keep getting little food gifts every day- most of them are homemade "sweets" that really aren't so sweet at all. i'm not really a big fan of them because they have a gelatinous consistency, and i hate food like that. yuck. i'm guessing one of the things i had was hangwa, which is a "cookie" made from fruit, nuts, powdered grains, and honey. i also had some cookies made from glutinous rice (i think) with bean paste- it may or may not have been songpyeon, which is a cookie made only for chuseok. but most of this stuff i've had to swallow down because i don't really want to offend any of the koreans who really are very proud of their cuisine.

anyway, tomorrow i guess all of the teachers are getting a present from the school. fred says this happens twice a year- for chuseok and the lunar new year. and i guess last time all of the guys got spam and the girls got various skin care products... sounds pretty equal to me. but if i get spam i'll definitely be passing that onto another teacher.

the downside about this weekend is that apparently traffic is CRAZY over the weekend, because everyone is trying to go home to be with family, which means you can forget about really doing any traveling unless you made plans way in advance- most highways get ridiculously congested and trains by now are probably all sold out. so i'm thinking the bus thing to donghak-sa isn't going to happen, yet again. it's ok, i have a little over 10 months left, i'm sure i'll get there one day.

i took a picture of one of my classes today, it's one of my larger ones (13 kids) that i think is exceptionally cute. they used to be so quiet but i think they've taken a liking to me and sometimes get overexcited. and there's one student who used to never talk and for some reason he's a problem now and never wants to do anything. i honestly think it's a hormonal thing with him- he's ok to talk to and he'll do work if i go over and help him, but the second i walk away he'll stop working. i think he's beginning to take an interest in the girls in the front, because he's always talking to them now.

the boy i was talking about (richard) is the one standing in the back- i moved him last week to a desk at the side of the room and he keeps sitting there now although he doesn't have to, i'm not really sure why. the boy next to him in the back with his hand up is bob, and he's really sweet, i've really taken a liking to him, i think because he goes out of his way to work hard and wants everyone else to work hard too. in the front to the left is anna, and she's awesome too. to the right of her is shelly, then sunny, bella, and ginny. i love the girls in that class, which is why i waited till today to take pictures at school. i guess because i mentioned almost everyone in the picture i might as well introduce you to the rest of them. the kid in the yellow shirt is jerry, and honestly i have no idea who the boy is next to him because he was new last friday and for some reason i keep forgetting to have him write his name on my attendence sheet at the beginning of class. so right now he's nameless, but he's pretty cool. and the other boy in blue looking down is gun/kun (korean name, and g and k are kind of interchangeable... just didn't want you all to think that he chose his name because of the weapon). he's kind of a handful- he used to be the loudest one until richard's hormones got the best of him.

another observation: when i call the kids crazy, or when i agree with the kids when they say someone else is crazy, they get a kick out of it. and then richard always says "crazy is handsome," because usually he's the target of the crazy comments. yes, crazy is quite a funny word over here. if you ever want to make kids laugh you say "you are crazy" or "he is crazy" or "you are making me crazy" and they get into hysterics and it's the cutest thing ever. in konglish, koreans actually interpret crazy to be something a little more negative, but i don't care... i think the kids know we use this word in a joking, friendly manner. these kids are really easy to amuse and i love it... that's crazy man. dig it.

so here's the funny story of the day, which i shall call "yes, random korean man, let's date!!!"

i was waiting to cross the street in front of my apartment, listening to my ipod, when a guy next to me starts talking. i turned the music off and he repeated "you live in obelisk villa?" and i said yes and he told me he lived there on the 9th floor. he seemed a bit older and harmless enough, and his english was better that most koreans i've talked to. he asked if i'd be interested in teaching his daughter, and the idea of making extra money teaching privately (everyone does it) sounded great, so i said yeah. he got my number and we walked to the apartment together, chatting about why i came to korea, the importance of english, etc. he told me i was beautiful and fantastic, but i didn't think anything of it because most koreans are like that with westerners (see previous posts). the he asked how old i was and told me he was either 34 or 36, i forget now. then he said "maybe it is possible to date?" that kind of threw me off for a second because i figured that since he had a daughter he was married. i said no. he asked why. why? why??? why are koreans so blunt and why can't they just take no for an answer? do they really want to hear i'm not interested or they're too old? so i lied. i said i didn't want a boyfriend, i didn't want to date, and he asked why again. so i lied again- he asked if i was seeing someone and i said "kind of." he said "in korea or you have american boyfriend?" and i said "in america." then he asked "is he financee?" (no, that wasn't a typo, he actually said "financee") and i said no. so he said "just boyfriend?" listen buddy, don't get your hopes up, it's not gonna happen. yes, i'll teach your kid, but we're not gonna date. i think for my next paycheck i'm gonna go buy a fake engagement ring that i can whip out during unwanted advances. i'm sure i could find one for around $30. so i got off on my floor and he said he'd call me to talk about teaching. yes, "teaching..."

lunch time!

obviously my life revolves around food, because i am very inspired now to post pictures of food that i think will be interesting to you as a reader. and what could possibly be more interesting than the food i make? for today's lunch i went to king mart and picked up whatever interested me and returned home, and this is what i bought:

so starting from the left, we have onions, moving to the right at the top it's a bag of kimchi, below is rice, and at the bottom is tofu. further to the right is hot green peppers and below that is seaweed salad. then we have stacked on on top of each other 3 types of paste, which i absolutely love. the top green container is ssamjang (seasoned bean paste), the red one below that is gochujang (hot pepper paste), and the bottom brown one is doenjang (soy bean paste). the three came together for only 3,000 won. yum. moving right along, we have a wedge of cabbage in front of the assorted pastes and finally we have a 2 liter bottle of water and some mushrooms. these mushrooms are delicious, seriously, i've never had mushrooms so good.

anyways, i went to work, and this was the end result:

i had to put it on a plate because the bowl i have is too small for pretty much everything except cereal. the really dark stuff in the lower right side is kim (dried seaweed). to the left of the seaweed is kimchi, above that is a sauteed pepper and onion with tofu and mushrooms, and then on the other side is the seaweed salad. obviously i'm not an authentic korean because i didn't keep the salad and kimchi in separate sidedish bowls, but i like the taste when everything's mixed together. and i used the seasoned bean paste, which was really really good. yeah, i am a master chef because it was delicious, so why don't you all come visit me and i'll cook for you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

nothing else to do but post

i forgot to even mention my lunch experience today, i was concentrating too much on putting up the pics.

so i walk to little woo cafe, and my first thought is it looks different, even though it's the same. different sign, different decorations. they have an actual hostess now as opposed to just a waitress. and i simply said bibimbap and she started rambling in korean. of course i still can't understand anything, so i basically sounded like a broken record, repeating bibimbap. she pointed to the menu on the wall, i tried saying i can't speak korean, and it ended with her kind of nodding and walking off. she understood what i wanted, but from the looks of it, it's not an option on the menu. because it's a staple meal, i wasn't too worried about getting the wrong thing.

so whatever i got must have been some sort of variation of bibimbap, and it was served dolsot (in a hot stone bowl). it must have been a lunch special, because it looked like that's what everyone was getting.

by this point i figured the restaurant was under new management- new menu, new prices. i was a little upset to find that the bill was 5,000 won... i'd been getting my meals there for 3,400, so that kind of sucked. but they did give me a travel mug as i was leaving, and it has a sticker on it that says "grand open," so maybe it was a little worth it.

anyway, this is my apartment from the outside. i live on the 7th floor, but i think in the picture it's the 5th window up, 2nd from the left.

and outback is right next door!


ok of course i have a one track mind and decided my first photos that i share should be of food. so, here we have sidedishes (all for me!), something that was supposed to be bibimbap (and i suppose in theory it was because technically it's mixed veggies and rice) but had no egg on top (unless fish eggs count), and of course the oh-so-addicting spicy tuna triangle kimbap thing from 7-11. more pictures to come.

Monday, September 12, 2005

nevermind, random readers!

so just as i finished posting my blog i got a call from a woman at hanaro. i signed up for a package that includes a land line, and she said the technician would call me probably on wednesday to come and install internet, but warned me that he wouldn't be able to come if it was raining because of the risk of electric shock. so the pessimist in me didn't want to believe that i would soon have internet in my apartment because i was thinking of the million things that could go wrong: it would be raining, the guy wouldn't be able to find my apartment, or he'd come and find something wrong and say it wasn't possible to hook it up.

imagine my surprise when i got a call just an hour later from the company asking if tomorrow (tuesday) was ok, and we set an appointment for 10 am. the guy even showed up early! and i was worried that i was going to have to do some rearranging too because my table/desk is across the room from the cable outlet, but he brought a long cable and lined it along the floor to my desk, so no messy cables in the way and no need to move my table next to the tv. and the genius in me, when i got to choose my phone number, selected 4351 as the last four digits of my phone number because i figured it'd be easier for people back home to remember. ok, so i just want to say that i definitely recommend hanaro for anyone who may be considering getting internet, because they have really good customer service- quick and friendly, and the woman i spoke with spoke english really well. and i swear, they didn't even pay me to say that.

and now i have everything i wanted to feel fully settled. well, there's still the coffeemaker issue. i'll have to check out the prices, but i think that's gonna come from my next paycheck. in about a half hour i'm gonna go to woo cafe, the little restaurant behind my apt, and get some bibimbap because i haven't had that in a while. and i will take some pictures so you can see the wonderful sidedishes it comes with. i'll also take some pictures of the outside of my apt and get one of those triangle kimbaps that i'm so addicted to.

and what's the best part of having internet? actually being able to read options on different websites. because i was using korean computers, even if sites were in english, a lot of the time i couldn't figure out how to do certain things because some of the links or options were in korean. like on this site! i didn't know where the option was to edit posts, the only one i knew for sure was the view blog and publish post buttons just because i remembered where on the page they were located. and opening files won't be a problem anymore. god bless my good ol' mac.

random readers, help me

ok i know there are some random people who read my blog, and most of you are living in korea. i'm just wondering, if your apartment is connected to the internet, how did you go about doing that? i know most buildings have their own deal with an internet company, and that's the service that you use if you want to be hooked up. i tried calling hanaro to ask them but couldn't really get past the answering service where i assume you select whatever number for the department you want. i tried pushing pretty much every button because i knew the next step would be trying to find an english speaker, so it didn't really matter which service i got through to. each time i was disconnected. i came here to the pc bang and sent an email to the company, so hopefully i'll get an answer through them, but if not i'd like to know what i can do to get myself hooked up.

anyway, if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

in other news, i was looking over some of my past entries, and some of my typos are kind of funny. i think for the most part it's easy to understand what i meant, but i giggled at the entry with the aim conversation between me and katherine. at the end i put "i'm still glad i'm korea." yep, i am an entire country. i control everything. now that i think about it, i don't need help connecting to the internet, i should be getting it for free, dammit.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

stupid no post blog

so i was feverishly typing my life story this morning to give an update, and i was literally finishing up the last paragraph when the stupid computer randomly turned off on me. and of course i don't really remember what i wrote because it's impossible to retrace my thoughts because they move a million miles a minute.

so i'll try to start anew. let's see. last night i did a whole lot of nothing. the pizza didn't happen and we ended up going to dunkin' donuts for dinner. on my way there i stopped at starbucks and got my first cup of korean starbucks coffee. i am so korean it hurts sometimes. but i will have you know this was the first day i've gone the western fast food way. because koreans only fill their cups of coffee halfway for some reason (most cafes and all coffee machines do this), i was pretty excited to get a full cup and ordered the largest size possible, which oddly enough is a 16 oz. grande. what happened to the good old 20 ouncer? and the verdict? tastes the same as it does in america, although i'm not really a fan of the starbucks coffee brand. but way too expensive- that grande cost me roughly $3.50. man, at borders you could get a 20 oz freeze for that price (minus the tax). so i won't be doing the starbucks thing regularly, but it'll be good once in a while when i'm craving a full cup. next paycheck i'm definitely buying a coffee maker, because these instant cappuccinos just aren't doing it for me anymore.

so i went to dunkin' donuts, all excited to get a bagel with cream cheese... of course they were out, so i settled for a croissant instead. the dinner of champions. then we rented the movie saw. i'd heard good things about it. it was definitely interesting and slightly disturbing. and mom and dad, part of the reason you thought i was drunk when you called was because i kept giggling at how long it took each of you to not only understand that the name of the movie was "saw", not that "i saw a movie," but also that you've both seen the movie, which apparently neither of you could really remember. but i can assure you that i did not consume a single alcoholic beverage yesterday.

we also did some window shopping and i checked out the digital cameras and found one that i wanted- which brings me to today. figuring it'd be better to go shopping today rather than go to a temple camera-less, i went out and purchased said camera. it's a samsung and was pretty decently priced, and i'm pretty excited to finally have a camera. i also went to elves, the store i like that has clothes for good prices. kind of makes me think of a hybrid of h&m and maybe deb or rave. but the clothes are cooler because they're asian. so i got a few shirts, the green bag i'd been dying to get, a wallet that fits korean money (no more rumpled bils from me!), 2 pairs of $2 earrings, and 2 barrettes. exciting, huh?

and i think the mystery of bus 102 has been solved. this is the bus that will bring me to donghak-sa, the temple i've been dying to go to, but i never understood where the bus stops were (as i've already said a million times). so i figured that i'd just take a taxi to the train station, where i know for sure has a bus stop there. but i was walking on the other side of the street across from my apartment today, which i never do because 1) i've never needed to and 2)there's too much traffic to just cross the street and walk on the other side just for the hell of it. but i did today because i thought i'd take a different route to carrefour, when, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a bus stop with the number 102 on the sign. i found a stop! right across the street from me! and what's even more bizarre is that when i was walking to elves i found yet another 102 bus stop. strange how things like that just kind of work themselves out. so next saturday i shall trek across the street and depart on bus 102 with new digital camera in hand, and all will be well (knock on wood).

came back after shopping kind of tired (i did a lot of walking) and watched some tv. one thing i love about tv here is you just never know what movie you'll be surprised with. i quite regularly enjoy classic american cinema- for example, today's lineup included encino man and i am not ashamed to say that i loved every second of it. brendan fraser really deserved an oscar for playing linkovich chomofsky. that scene at the museum where he having an emotional breakdown and is trying to start a fire... gets me every time. ok ok, i really watch it for pauly shore's rendition of "shoo fly." oh yeah, and i've already watched kindergarten cop not once, but twice here. except for some reason they call it "kindergarten man." ahh, classic arnold:

-stop whining! you are soft! you lack discipline!

-no more complaining. no more 'mr. kimble, I have to go the bathroom,' nothing! there is no bathroom!

arnold: i have a headache
kid: maybe it's a tumor
arnold: it's not a tumah

arnold: this is a feeerret
kids: what's a ferret?
arnold: this is a feeerret
kids: ohhhh

enough quoting.

Friday, September 09, 2005

the curse of the shoe gods

i don't know what i did to offend the powers that be, but the shoe gods have really had it out for me since my arrival. my feet now have blisters galore from my daily treks in my ballet shoes and those cursed dr. scholl's which were supposed to help my feet, not make them even more bloody. even my trusty boots created some mini blisters.

the only shoes i still had faith in were my cheap old navy flip flops... and even they're starting to give out on me. case in point: i was on my merry way to work 2 days ago, grooving to the rolling stones, feeling pretty good. stumbled about five feet forward, looked at my feet to see what was wrong (because obviously they have a mind of their own). my left flip flop was folded under itself... turned out the thong part of the shoe came out. miraculously that day i just so happened to think that my dr. scholl's shoes would go better with my outfit, so i had them stored in my big black bag. i must have looked like mary poppins to anyone who was looking at the stupid foreigner who couldn't retain her balance and was pulling a new pair of shoes out of her bag. yep, i even had an umbrella in there. so after a quick change of shoes on the sidewalk, i continued my journey to school.

and now let's jump ahead two days, to yesterday. i was wearing my dr. scholl's at school, and i was walking on the tiled floor. my right shoe was making a scraping sound, and giving some unwanted resistance in my stride. i went back to my desk to check it out, and lodged into the bottom of my shoe was a nail. at this point, i really began to contemplate all of the problems that my feet have given me since i've been in korea, and i've come to the conclusion that some divine force does not want me here. i took this nail as some sort of threat... "if you don't leave now, your actual foot will be next." side note: i have since repaired my old navy flip flops- popped the thong part back in and i'm good to go.

yes, i have just wasted a good part of my day writing about shoes. nothing like killing time on a lazy saturday. what else is new, you ask? well i guess i never really wrote about my trip last weekend. not much to talk about... went to muju ski resort with 5 teachers, 4 of which were koeran. result: a lot of konglish conversation. didn't see anything touristy because we got there probably around 8:30 when it was dark. they made dinner, we drank, went to bed early in the morning, and were out a little after noon. not really the trip i had in mind, but it beat staying in the city. the view of the mountains on the trip home was great though, and it really made me want to do some real sight-seeing (strange- i've been here 5 weeks now and still haven't seen much).

i got paid 2 days ago, nice to have money again. i finally got to pay my utilities and phone bill (yeah they were both late, but thankfully no electricity, hot water, or cable was turned off). took a few trips running around to figure out where i had to pay, but i'm too lazy to type the whole story. ask my family if you really want to know.

to celebrate having money again, i did some grocery shopping and among my purchases i picked up some chips and pace salsa which surprisingly wasn't too expensive at carrefour. and then last night i think i ate my weight in food. any of the complaining i may have done in the past few days about losing a pants size and my jeans not fitting can probably end now, because i'm sure i gained it all back. i finished off a box of snack cakes, ate a ton of chips and salsa, and still kept korean through it all with some rice and kimchi. i'll see you at the overeaters anonymous meeting tonight. i'm sure i'll eat right through the day, too, because i'm meeting johnny for pizza later on. it'll be my first korean pizza experience. i must say, as a serious pizza person so i've been curious about what it's like here. i'm sure i'll be writing about the results later. although i haven't had much western food cravings yet (the chips and salsa was just a "because i can" splurge) i do miss pizza. i've been thinking a lot about that time i ate a whole large domino's pizza all by myself. and no, i wasn't under the influence of anything.

i need to start doing some digital camera research. apparently suwon is known for having really cheap electronics so i suppose that's where i'll make my purchase. and then finally you'll be able to see some of the things i've been talking about. i'm sure my first posted picture will be of those addicting triangle kimbap things from 7-11.

ok kids, what have we learned from today's post? tanya hates her shoes and she eats a lot. i still am the biggest waste of space ever.

i have been getting more random comments from koreans lately. i was wondering when that was going to start, because from everything i'd heard (and even experienced from koreans back in the states), they always go on and on about how beautiful westerners are, even if you are the most average person to walk this earth. i went to lunch last saturday with a korean teacher who speaks english pretty well. she told me that when she first saw me she thought i was european. even back in the states people told me they always thought i was french when they met me (i think it's the short hair), so i thought it was funny that even a korean would think that. so i thought it was even more bizarre later that night at the resort when some of the guys were saying i look french. they were saying i needed a nickname because apparently they all have nicknames, and someone suggested "frenchie." i shot that one down in no time. most strange comment yet? yung su told me i look like barbie. i'm pretty sure that i really don't looke like barbie, and i told him just that. barbie has long blonde hair and blue eyes. not to mention she wouldn't even be able to hold herself up if she was a real person because of her figure. but he insists my eyes, nose, and mouth look like barbie. i'm pretty sure he only thinks that because i don't look asian.

and now it's story time, brought to you by the girl who rambles waaaaay too much: i was talking to celeste this morning and she told me a really funny (if slightly racist) story that still has me giggling, but i'm sure typing it won't do it justice. a relative of her boyfriend, chris, was playing monopoly with his family one day. i'm sure we're all familiar with oriental avenue, located between reading railroad and a chance space. well, their young boy (probably around 7 years old) happened to own oriental avenue when his dad landed on the property. so, in his best imitation of an asian accent, the boy said "sorry round-eye, you no stay here for free." a seven year old. where did he learn that? the mere thought of a little kid saying that makes it hilarious and erases any negativity there may have been.

yeah that's all i've got.

seacrest out.

Monday, September 05, 2005

good old american converstaions

so in an email to my roommates today i was saying that i miss american wackiness. people in korea just don't get sarcasm, which is hell for me because i'm pretty sure i'm the most sarcastic person to walk this earth. well maybe not that extreme, but i think anyone who knows me can tell you i'm pretty sarcastic. so basically all of the wackiness i get in my day comes in the form of queer eye for the straight guy. thank god they air the show over here because it's like my roommates, best friends, and family all rolled into five gay guys.

but miraculously aim express worked on my computer today (i always try signing on and it just freezes) and i got to talk to katherine who gave me some much needed humor inspiration.

our conversation about my korean stalker, aka teacher who keeps asking me out by asking if he can call everyday:
tess4351: but he was trying to impress me a bit, with his family
musicaliza: whoah
tess4351: first, tattoos are illegal to get in korea and the teachers on the trip were all asking questions about it
musicaliza: spans!! stop being a lwabreaker
tess4351: ha ha ok, but he was saying how his parents are very understanding, and they accept tattoos
musicaliza: oh thats so nice of them
tess4351: i think in other words trying to say they would accept me
tess4351: ha ha i know
tess4351: i was just like whatever
tess4351: then later he knew i play music
tess4351: and he said his brother is some sort of talent producer for tv
musicaliza: oh wow you are made
tess4351: and he was saying "maybe... i introduce brother... and you on tv"
tess4351: meaning i can play flute on tv
musicaliza: hahahahaha
musicaliza: no i lik ejust thinking of you one tv
musicaliza: singing
musicaliza: or being a weather girl
tess4351: i kept saying no and he didn't quite understand that i don't want to play flute on tv, i just don't like performing
musicaliza: hahahahaha
musicaliza: how do you meet these people
musicaliza: i love it
tess4351: and he just kept saying "why you don't want? i think you no courage" and ikept saying "no i don't like perform"
musicaliza: you dont have courage???
musicaliza: oh god
musicaliza: bad tanya
tess4351: so i thought that was his drunk talk, but when he was driving me home the next day and he mentioned it again, saying to think about it
musicaliza: you have tattoos but no courage
tess4351: ha ha hatess4351: i know
tess4351: i come to korea alone, but no courage because i won't play flute on tv
tess4351: ha ha ha
musicaliza: hes dumb
musicaliza: im glad iim not in korea

regardless, i'm still happy that i'm korea!

Friday, September 02, 2005

rockin' to the 80s

i'm sitting here in the pc bang and what do i hear from across the room? none other than richard marx belting "right here waiting." awesome, that's the kind of music i want america to be known for!

at least it's not just america. walking out of a restaurant last weekend i heard germany's pride and joy scorpion and their classic hit "winds of change."

boy do these koreans have good taste. i'm keeping my fingers crossed to hear some billy ray cyrus- then i'll almost feel like i'm back in america. almost.