Monday, February 27, 2006

more celeste pictures

the rest of my week with celeste went swimmingly. thursday we went to gyeryeongsan so she could take in a little korean mountain/temple scenery, and thursday night melissa, rika, kate, and lucy came over for a girl's night. friday we went shopping in the underground mall where celeste finally found some boots, and then friday night was our night out- celeste's crash course in korean nightlife. we started off with yogurt soju at the soju tent, then headed over to the noraebang. after that we took a brief intermission at 7-11 for some lemon remix soju, and then went straight over to bubi bubi. one thing that's starting to suck about bubi bubi is the atmosphere change- they seem to have found a new deal that they like and stuck with, because now every time we go it's all you can drink beer for $5, which is great in and of itself, but it's starting to attract a lot more people. one of the things we liked best about the place was that we could go there and dance and be left alone and not be a spectacle, but lately the guys have been a lot more adament about dancing with us and can't take the hint that we don't want to dance with them when we run away from them across the dance floor. all in all, it was a fun night. i ended up running into jim, a coworker from canada, which i thought was funny because it was my first time seeing him out. we were there until about 4:30 in the morning, and celeste, i'm sorry to say, i think that mom and dad ended up staying out later than you did when they visited.

for saturday we planned on spending the night in seoul, and decided to splurge on ourselves and make reservations at the marriott. we were pretty tired when we got there and decided that, even though we were in seoul and most normal people would go out sight-seeing, we were going to stay in the hotel the entire night. so we ate good food at the restaurant and reveled in the sense of normalcy brought by to us a grilled tuna sandwich and a reubin, bath tubs, ben and jerry's ice cream, and two full-sized beds. it was nice.

so, without further ado, here are some highlights of celeste's week here:

putting on our best oasis faces

celeste, me, and aaron at oasis

remember when it was cool for you and your sister to wear matching dresses? what? it's not cool?

at the soju tent

al pouring celeste soju, korean style

you oughta know

new year's day with aaron, obviously we had a whole dance choreographed

at bubi bubi: jim, me, al, celeste, aaron

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

adventures with celeste

well, this is the first chance i've gotten to update since celeste got here. ok really, i've had the time, i've just been too lazy. it's been quite an adventure so far. i've always been a believer that things just naturally work out, but we've been thrown a few curve balls since the moment she got to the airport in elmira. long story short, she got here later than expected (not too much later, but late enough to miss the last bus to daejeon which i had already gotten tickets for) after a hellish day of traveling for her. so we ended up taking a $187 taxi ride all the way to daejeon, because by that point, both of us just wanted to be home and neither of us cared how much we'd pay.

this korean visit has been authentic right from the start. by monday celeste had already seen the hospital twice, had lunch at outback steakhouse, and dessert at baskin robbins. yeah the tonsillitis came back so we were rather limited with what we could do. but by monday night the medicine had taken effect again and i was feeling better, which meant we were good to go for oasis the following night! didn't take my camera for that one, but aaron brought his, so pictures will soon be posted. we had quite an experience that night- the concert itself was good, then after we got something to eat celeste and i tried to stay the night in a love motel, while alisun, salsa, and aaron just waited around to kill time. after spending $40 to stay in the seoul motel in incheon, i can safely say to anyone considering spending some time there "run away! run away!" this motel had all elements working against us- hairs under the cover, small room, no water jug, and after the moaners and groaners and bed knockers on the other side of the wall went at it for the upteenth time, we decided we'd try to take a train out. god only knows what the man working at the desk could have thought after two girls checked out of their room only an hour and a half after checking in. on the way out we met some people i knew from daejeon (who were wasted), and the girl there decided she'd come catch the train with us. of corse this meant i had to spend the entire hour sitting next to her on the train as she talked my ear off (she even stopped and bought another bottle of soju before we went into the station). she got my number, let's pray she doesn't call me. also, it turned out that alisun, salsa, and aaron had tickets for the same train because it's the first one out and they ended up sitting in our car.

that was the longest night of my life, and we got back at about 6:30 in the morning. after sleeping about an hour we got ready and headed downtown for some shopping. it was a fun day- we got some clothes (including matching 60s-style shirt-dresses), had some bibimbap for lunch, and then did two hours in the noraebang. i'm proud to say that celeste is no exception to the smith noraebang legacy. she is a master of all performances vocal. secretly, i'm a little relieved, because this really was just an audition to see how well she performs before i put her out there with all of my friends. i wanted to avoid the possibility and humiliation of bringing in a sister who couldn't sing. luckily, she made the cut, so she's allowed to sing with my friends. so generous of me.

but seriously, folks, here are some noteworthy pictures of her visit so far:

with kimchi:

eating ssamgyeopsal:

(apparently she didn't realize this wasn't a playboy shoot, and changed her shirt when we got back to the apartment)

at the noraebang:

Monday, February 13, 2006

sicky mcsickerton

so this is my (i admit it, it's kind of boring) post about being sick in korea. flashback to two nights ago, when my throat was feeling kind of sore, which i took for slight dehydration. monday morning i woke up and it hurt to swallow, but i still thought it was just from not drinking enough water and thought i'd maybe feel better as the morning went on. nope, took a look at my tonsils- my left one was swollen and covered with white stuff (lovely, eh?) and i had a killer neck/headache. took a nap before school, woke up feeling like i hadn't gotten any sleep. went to school, throat kept hurting more and more, and my body was aching and skin felt irritated whenever it touched anything. made a deal with myself that if i wasn't better in the morning, i'd go to the hospital, at this point i suspected strept throat or tonsillitis.

so, i came home that night, crawled into bed at 9:30 with my alarm set for 8. woke up (this morning) and this time my right tonsil was also swollen and covered with white stuff. since melissa had volunteered to go to the hospital with me, we headed off to eulji medical center. i wasn't sure what to expect because 1) i had read that they had english-speaking doctors there, but tried calling in the morning and got really frustrated when i kept saying "hanguk mulayo" and they kept blabbering in korean instead of tranferring me to an english-speaking person and 2) i don't have health insurance (my school offers it, but never thought it would be necessary because i "never" get sick. but i got there and right away knew it'd be ok, the woman at information spoke english and called an english-speaking nurse, who was hired for cases just like me. she was really nice, only her second day working here- she said she was disappointed because yesterday no foreigners came in, so we were her first ones. so she acted as our tour guide/translator for the rest of the visit.

so she brought me to the ear and throat specialist, he sat me down, put some torture devices in my mouth (one of which was a long metal suctioning rod, that i assume was for taking a throat culture or something and reduced me to tears and a coughing fit) but it only took one look for him to say "severe tonsillitis. i think you should stay in the hospital for a few days to rest." i wasn't about to have that, i was still planning on going in to work today, but because i didn't have insurance, they said it would be ok for me to just rest at home and take my medication there. so the next step was telling my school that i'm supposed to stay home from work for a few days. i was quite nervous and feeling guilty about that because i have next week off (celeste is coming!) so originally they were going to write a doctor's note for me, but then i started thinking that it would take a while to get to them and i wanted them to know as soon as possible, so i asked if they could call to get my school's fax number so we could fax it to them. my tour guide called up and ended up getting dr. kim himself and explained everything to him, and then i talked to him and he said take 2-3 days rest, and then we can talk about my health later. that was a huge relief because even sick days are hard to take here, you pretty much need to be on your death bed, depending on the school, in order to take the day off. he was very cool about it, but i still feel bad that they have to scramble to cover my classes for the next few days. this is coming from a girl who NEVER takes sick days, in any job.

anyway, i came home stocked with medication i have to take three times a day- a set of pills (one thing i love about medicine in korea is they package it according to how you should take it- i got nine numbered baggies with the pills i have to take for each time), along with some gargle and syrup. fun stuff. and i still don't regret not having insurance because i only had to pay $15 for hospital registration, and then my medication only came to $21. good times. nowhere in america could a hospital visit/examination/medication come to $36.

all in all, i'd say if anyone in daejeon is reading this, i highly recommend eulji hospital. the english-speaking nurse was a life-saver, and everyone there was really friendly. and i swear i am not being paid for this endorsement.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

it's the little things that count

so i shamelessly stole this entry from an email that salsa got from her friend lisa, who taught for a year in korea. lisa wrote her an email discussing the trials and tribulations she experienced during her time here, and salsa forwarded it to us, along with her response (she followed the format of lisa's original email). i thought her thoughts were too funny and true to not share with those who just can't imagine the small funny things we encounter every day here. first, i give you lisa's email:

"I could talk about Korea for days... what's the social climate in your opinion in Daejeon and other places you've been? What do you do to teach? Who are your good friends that you mentioned? What ajuma do you buy your apples from? How much do you pay? Have you eaten anything that had an unknown, unremoved stomach that exploded in your mouth? Have you found a black market that sells chicken broth, cocoa powder and deoderant yet? Did you buy a bike? What do you think about matching couple outfits? Did you receive socks? Do you do pullups or lift weights on the tops of mountains? Do people think you're a genius because you know how to say hello in the language that you've been hearing for the last 4 months? Do you find that you like TGIFriday's and Starbucks even though you were previously against globalization, and still are at heart? Have you eaten Shabu-Shabu? Are you obsessed with raw garlic? Does kimchi slide down your throat like a pad of melting butter? Does the sight of raw meat make your mouth water? Does a picture of a dirty pig make you think of eating Doeji-Kalbi? And many many more questions I would like to ask you and that I know would spark a million great conversations."

and here is salsa's response:

"When I teach, I use books with Peter Pan and the characters from Toy Story on the cover. They highlight valuable words like "wigwams" from the historically accurate Disney's 'Pocahontas.' Did you ever feel like you were singing and tap dancing just to keep the attention of your youngsters?

I buy my apples from the ajama with the plaid pants, visors and pollution you know her!!!Did ajamas ever slap your butt at the grocery store, steal your taxi or push you out of the way while entering an elevator? Did you ever develop theories about how ajamas are planning to overthrow the ajama coup d'etats if you will?

I have eaten things with an unknown stomach AND I'm growing fond of them! Did you ever get handed a fork and a 'service coke-a-cola" at a restaurant b/c clearly meegooks can't handle chopsticks and the spiciness of the Korean 'stamina' food?

I haven't bought a bike, but did you ever have a near death experience involving cars and sidewalks?

The matching couple outfits!!! AND the pink spray painted dogs! Do you now make your hubby hold your purse everywhere you go as a means of declaring, "Hands off ladies - He's holding MY fake Louie Vuitton for a reason!"

I have received socks -- ones with dogs with red noses. Come to think of it, maybe they were suppose to be Rudolph? Did you ever get vitamin drinks from your students' parents or cooked sweet potatoes from your boss's wife?

Starbucks coffee means more to me than water. What's globalization???!!! Do you wonder how America survives with so few Dunken Dounuts and 7-11s?

My girls and I ARE in fact obsessed with raw garlic. How do you feel about dried kim in small rectangles for appetizers at bars and restaurants? There's nothing like looking across the table at your friends and seeing tiny, green speckles stuck to their lips!

I ACTUALLY had some Korean bbq for the first time last week. After 4 months of getting harassed by my boss to eat meat...I finally decided that that cartoon dancing pig on the sign outside IS, in fact appetizing! Is your favorite part when they snip-snip the raw meat with scissors? Yummm.

We shall have some fabulous conversations!!! Thank God. Makes me happy to know that just when I think that I will forget about the most elaborate pencil cases that transform into board games and robots....SOMEONE can remind me!

Anyway...hope we stay pen pals! I still have 8 months here so I WOULD love to seek your guidance on important issues like, 'must you eat the entire dried squid when you order it by accident? Will it taste better if you dip it in the bean paste/mayonnaise combo sauce?''

aaaand finishy.