Wednesday, June 28, 2006

what a long, strange trip it's been

ok so i have just about a month to go before i head back to the good ol' us of a. the time is currently 2:39 am and i feel like reminiscing. i just downloaded the most recent episodes of "so you think you can dance?" and it just brought back memories of *last* summer, when i started watching the *first* season of the show. and i realized how fast this year really went.

this entry will really be a mental purge. i intend on getting a lot of thoughts out. like:

the fact that i only have 1 month left. so strange!

the fact that two new teachers are coming in tonight (actually, in 10 minutes!) and tomorrow night and the chemistry of the foreign staff is totally going to be different. i will no longer be the only girl, and it won't be just me, jim, and zolst any longer. we're adding two, count 'em, TWO foreign girls. strangeeee.

i'm beginning to think about applying to grad schools for the fall 2007 school year. i really want to become a certified teacher and teach esl in public schools. who knew that majoring in music ed would lead to this?

i've also had a funny week, including a hilarious conversation with a student. now, if you remember, back around christmas time i put up a picture of a christmas card i received from a student, bella. bella moved on to junior high, and i was quite sad because she was quite possibly the cutest student i had at the time. oh but with the next semester came jenny, or "baby bella." jenny is bella's younger sister. now bella is short, but jenny is ten times shorter. i didn't think they came any cuter than bella, but i was wrong.

yesterday i went into the bathroom to clean out the coffee filter. i ran into jenny, who was excited to see me out of class. "hi, tanya!" she exclaimed. she ran into the stall and proceeded to use the toilet, meanwhile keeping conversation with me. she joked with me and a friend who was in the bathroom with her about our differences in height and other wonders of the world. then, cute as ever, 'tanya- do you have man?" i had to make sure i heard her right. "what?" i asked. she repeated "you have man?" struck by the humor of the situation, i replied "no." she asked "why? you're so pretty!" i said "because" but she again asked "why?" obviously no answer would do. how would they understand "johnny depp is still taken" unless i spoke in korean? at this time, a korean english teacher walked out of a stall, obviously finding the conversation hilarious. at that moment, the sheer absuridy of the situation struck me... oddly enough, the "absurdity" of it was the fact that it felt totally natural- chatting in the bathroom with my "girls"... or korean students. whatever. really, it felt just as if i was home with any friend, gossiping in the bathroom. who'd've thunk a year ago that this would turn into my normal life? oh i'll miss my students.

Friday, June 23, 2006

fighting korea

tonight (or, rather, tomorrow morning). 4 am. korea vs. "swiss."

i'll be watching it behind my eyelids. ^_^

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

beach bums

last weekend was amazing. alisun and i went to gangneung, a small city on the northeast coast. gangneun is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, and we hit up gyeongpo beach. that's right, 1.8 sprawling sandy kilometers of ocean bliss. because it's still technically the "off-season," it wasn't overly crowded. we got a motel room right on the beach for 50,000 won. how can you beat a view like this from your motel room window?

so, i enjoyed the beach in all its sun-soaked glory. basked in the sun, watched the waves crash in, and reminisced about my own family vacations. it was also a great place for people watching:

sunday morning we got up at 8 am and went to the beach again to make the best of our few remaining hours before we had to check out. we hadn't gone swimming the day before, but decided to go for it. the water was cold, but it felt really good. after, we were laying out in our swimsuits to dry when we got that unwanted dose of "oh my gosh! foreigners on the beach!" that we had fortunately avoided until then. we were both laying on our stomachs, minding our own business, when i heard some giggling and saw from the corner of my eye a group of koreans discreetly trying to take pictures of us. a girl was standing somewhat in front of us, and they were obviously taking a picture of her just to get us in the background. sighing, but figuring there wasn't much i could do because, after all, aren't we all guilty of this every once in a while? i returned to my book, and glanced over to see if they were still taking pictures. what do i find? this same girl is now crouched RIGHT NEXT to alisun, posing and smiling for a picture. come ON! taking a picture from a safe distance is one thing, but to be blatantly using us for pictures is downright RUDE. alisun was obliviously dozing until i told her to look, and when she did finally see what was going on, there was hell to pay. "are you kidding me? no! this is not funny! go away!" she tossed a little bit of sand at the girl, who was by this point standing, apparently torn between giving another peace sign for a picture or backing away. the "photographer" was finally the one to motion her back over. we kept giving them dirty looks, but they weren't at all embarrassed or ashamed of their actions because they set up camp next to us.

alisun, still spitting daggers, was very upset. "it's like we're not even people!" she was about to get up, take my camera, and put it right in their faces to take pictures (she was actually standing and going for my bag) but i convinced her that that would only make the situation worse, but if we caught them taking pictures again, by all means go for it. so, we went back to lounging in the sun, but glanced over periodically to try to catch them "in the act."

11:00 rolled around, and we were closing up shop when a DIFFERENT group of koreans came up to us. a man started asking if he could take a picture with us. alisun right away said "NO!" and we marched back to the motel.

now i know what it feels like to be a celebrity on the beach.

in other news, i joined a new gym yesterday. it's actually the gym right next door to me. why it took so long for me to check it out, i couldn't tell you, but i'm sad that it took almost 11 months. i bought a month for 70,000 won, expensive, yes, but this gives me membership to the entire building- it's a jjimjilbang/sauna/fitness center all rolled into one, with seven floors. the gym itself is pretty nice, on the top floor, with treadmills that overlook the busy intersection below. the equipment is rather nice, also. after that i soaked in some hot tubs and sweated in the hot rooms. nothing soaking your muscles in warm water after a good workout.

also, i just read this morning about a movie that is in the works called "expats."

imdb link

i'll definitely be seeing that one, finally a movie about living in south korea! although i have no experience with gangs in busan, i'm really looking forward to watching it, so i can say "that's EXACTLY what life was like in korea!"

going back to vacations, less than two months and my family and i will be renting this house on the cape for a week:

waterfront view!

oh, i can't wait.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

worlduh cupuh

as promised, here is a more detailed account of the korea-togo match. word is there were a lot of parks showing the game on a big screen, but alisun and i opted to go to a bar to get the smaller atmosphere and really feel like part of the crowd. most of the bars were PACKED, so alisun and i ended up at some random bar after checking out a few tried-and-true (and filled to the max) bars.

it was pretty exciting to be in a country that actually cared about soccer. all day tuesday my students kept telling me that america had lost to the czech republic the night before, and i kept saying that i didn't really care about america's team. then i took the time to explain how soccer isn't a popular sport in america and how i was willing to bet that if you went anywhere in america, the average person might not even know the world cup was happening, much less be able to name a player on the team. a few of the more knowledgeable students nodded their little heads in agreement and then said to the students who weren't in the know that baseball, basketball, and football were america's pasttimes.

enough about america. after korea's win, it was pure craziness. it was like a city winning the superbowl, but countrywide. and that was only the first game. everyone poured into the streets and it was red t-shirts and glowing devil horns galore. people were cheering 대 한 민 국 ("dae han min guk" or "south ko-re-a!") clap clap clap clap clap. for the rest of the night you couldn't go for one minute without hearing a horn beeping to the cheer. i'd love to watch the second game, but unfortunately it's at 4 am and i don't think i'm that dedicated.

in other news, i saw x-men 3 last night. a good movie, but a word to the wise: if you go see it, make sure to stay through the credits. apparently there's more, which i didn't find out about until i got home. i want my 6,000 won back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

대 한 민 국!

대 한 민 국! (clap clap clap clap clap)

korea 2, togo 1

i will write more about this adventure when it isn't 1 in the morning and i am well-rested.

but, indeed, reds go together.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

no gold star for you, stella

the charming comments like "teacher, your face is so small, your eyes are so big" are now no longer part of my memory, and a new evil has taken its place.

i know our faces are different from the typical "korean layout," but man.

it seemed innocent enough. a couple of girls giggle-giggling away until i asked what the problem was. they said my nose was so long and upturned. and then brave stella announced "you are pinocchio!"


do you see the resemblance?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


today is korea's memorial day, so basically everyone has the day off. for us foreigners, it means another excuse for a lazy day. a rather large group of us got together last night for dinner at cin cin, basically for rika's "last supper." she's leaving this saturday, so we thought it'd be nice for us to do something for her. we ended up using alisun's video camera to tape each other at the table, telling our favorite "rika moments."

for the record, i talked about the first weekend we met and went to the chuseok festival for foreigners. she wanted to get her picture taken in hanbok (the traditional korean clothes) but wanted to get a real korean guy dressed up in the picture with her. so of course she chooses the most awkward 15 year old boy to wait with her in line just to get a picture for her. finally they get in the hanbok and she asked where he was from. this boy, who so graciously agreed to help her out and wait in line for so long, told her he was from china, to which rika responded "YOU'RE NOT EVEN KOREAN?" oh rika, we'll really miss you.

last night was a great night in general. those in attendance were alisun, melissa, rika, tom, pat, aaron, lucy, kevin, dp, robin, angela, jim, kelley, and colleen. imagine 14 people trying to cram into some tables pushed together. it was great. after that, we brought some drinks to a park and just sat outside, talking. it felt great because everyone was in a great mood and we reminisced about things we've done in our time here. i almost forgot how many things we've done and how many "moments" we've had here, and it made me that much more sentimental about leaving. fred just finished working last week at school and is going back to canada, so with him and rika leaving, i feel like the closing process is really beginning. it's all beginning to feel almost a little too "l'auberge espagnole."

anyway, after a while it was just down to me, al, tom, rika, aaron, jim, and kelley, and we decided we would sneak into a deserted building in the process of construction. from what we heard from people (and aaron had snuck in before) there's usually a guard on duty, so we had to be quiet. so, the building is about 40 floors, and we climbed up to the top and sat up on the roof for a while looking over the city. it was awesome because we were definitely in one of the higher buildings in the city so we could see a lot.

(sorry it's a bit fuzzy, but at least you can pretend to see how awesome the view really was.)
it was a late night for me, and i ended up getting back at 4:30 am. haven't done that in a long time.

so today is 6-6-6 and melissa and i fittingly went to see the omen. it was good creepy fun. the theater was packed and there were a lot of "make you jump" moments. the first moment i wasn't really expecting, and i made a very unnatural noise and almost jumped right into melissa. unfortunately she did the same thing and we ended up hitting faces. and that spawned a giggling fit... one of those "silent chuckles" moment where i really had to work to hold it in or i would completely lose it, and i didn't really think being in the audience of the omen was a hospitable environment for a full-out laugh attack.

what else? the past weekend was also fun. it's nice to be able to get out again. i went out on friday, and dragged pretty much the whole gang with me because my co-worker had a friend who was opening a club and wanted as many people there as possible. and when i say "as many people" i really mean they needed people there. period. because when alisun, rika, and i showed up there was NO ONE which was a shame, really, because the djs were really good.

yep, me and al are the only ones on the dance floor.

thankfully, everyone met us there so it ended up being tons of fun.

kevin even got some extra loving. i'm thinking from now on he's going to demand that people call him charlie.

on saturday i went out with jim, fred, zolst.

(zolst, fred, jim)

first we met at weisenhaus, a brewery for a dinner buffet. pretty good deal- 15,000 won all you can eat and drink, and they had a decent buffet and three kinds of beer, one of which was really good and dark. i think the last time i had dark beer was back in july. almost forgot what it tasted like. after that we went bowling, and i shamed them all. and by "shamed them all" i mean by the third game i had a new all-time low score in the 20s. how's that for awesome.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

what does it all mean?

i apologize for the swearing rant earlier, but i was feeling a bit like a college student whose computer shut down in the midst of writing an unsaved term paper.

anyway, a few people have been asking/have asked about where the name of my blog came from. i realize it makes me sound a bit like a born-again christian, but i can assure you that's not the case, and figured it was about time i shared it with everyone.

it's actually a line from one of my favorite jeff buckley songs (mojo pin) and i thought it was appropriate because:
a) "born again" is a new beginning, which is what this experience has been for me
b) i assume the rhythm part can go without saying considering my musical experiences, but its purpose is really two-fold. i also interpreted it to mean the rhythm of life, or the new rhythm of life abroad. of course that was almost a year ago, which is strange to think about.
and finally, c) i love jeff buckley

surprisingly, the song isn't really about any of the reasons above, and the lyrics really sound quite sexually suggestive. here are my favorite parts:

precious, precious silver and gold
and pearls in oyster's flesh
drop down we two to serve and pray to love
born again from the rhythm screaming down from heaven
ageless, ageless and i'm there in your arms

don't wanna weep for you, don't wanna know
i'm blind and tortured, the white horses flow
the memories fire, the rhythms fall slow
black beauty i love you so

there it is, my jeff buckley obsession. i just love the intensity of his lyrics, and i've never heard anyone sing with more emotion than he does.

one last try

ok i'll try one more time. took a few deep breaths, ate an apple, and i'm feeling better. it'll have to be a bit shorter, though, because i have to leave for work in a half hour.

last weekend, alisun and i took a bus to 충 주 (chungju) to go to 충 주 호 (chungju lake). highly recommended. for 8,000 won we took a ferry ride around the lake, and it was just gorgeous scenery because we were surrounded by mountains. it didn't even matter that the sky was cloudy because the mountains in the fog and clouds were beautiful.

it almost didn't even matter that there was also an elementary school trip on the ferry. almost.

after that, we took an intercity bus to 수 안 보 (suanbo), a small resort town known for it's natural hot springs. it's basically a town in the mountains with nothing but restaurants and hotels with attached spas. we checked into a hotel and got some really exceptional 비 빔 밥 (bibimbap) for dinner. after that, our need for a 노 래 방 was greater than our need for soaking in some hot water, so we killed an hour or two singing first.

unfortunately, we took a bit too long, and the spa was closed by the time we were ready for it. so we called it a night and got up in the morning for some spa relaxation. it was awesome that each hotel has its own spa, because then they aren't as crowded and the atmosphere is generally more low-key than normal spas.

we walked to the bus terminal with the intentions of taking a bus back to chungju and then a bus to daejeon, but we read the times wrong and thought we'd have to wait two hours for the next bus. instead, we decided to get tickets for the next bus out, even though it was out of the way, because, well why not? the next bus happened to be leaving in an hour for 수 원 (suwon), which is a city just a little south of seoul famous for the fortress surrounding the city. we were pretty pumped about it, and it was definitely worth it. and boy did our hour go by quickly. we stumbled upon an annual "japan-korea happy race" (the actual name escapes me, but it was something along those lines. it must've been a half-marathon or something, and we stood for a while watching the runners as they crossed the finish line. after that, we wandered around in the crowd, watching the runners and their families (and policemen?) happily munch 라 면 (ramyeun) and 김 치 (kimchi).

there was also a small percussive band playing as the runners finished, and i caught a few of the runners giving the drums a try.

and, we had just enough time to take a picture of ourselves.

we also tried walking on an orthopedic food path. these are usually found in parks, just a stone path that's supposed to give various benefits to your health via your feet. but boy, as alisun can show you, it hurts!

hwaseong fortress it's by far the coolest thing i've seen in korea. maybe it was because we weren't even planning on visiting it, and maybe it's because most of the times when we've gone to do something touristy, it always ended up being underwhelming. we walked along the fortress for a while (it's over 5 kilometers long), and caught a 5:00 bus back to daejeon.

all in all, alisun and i were quite proud of ourselves because we felt like we did the weekend just right. we thought we hit up some pretty good spots that are lesser-known than the usual foreigner destinations, and these places had such great laid-back atmospheres. noone was pushy anywhere and the people were all very friendly, not in an "i'm being nice to you because you speak english" kind of way.

for anyone thinking about teaching here and not sure about where to go, i would definitely recommend suwon or chungju (and also busan, but that's besides the point.) of course, daejeon is great too, but i think that just looking at these cities, i'd choose the first three over daejeon for pure atmosphere.

two seconds later

my blood is still BOILING and i don't want to but i'm so PISSED about this that i can't just stop and not even try to put up what i was working on.

i still feel the urge to swear up a storm *%&#$^@!!!

it just irks me that i was really taking the time to put up useful information, get the korean to go along with it (it's not easy typing it on my keyboard because obviously the characters aren't written on my keyboard and i have to use a separate window as a reference) i was working on putting up pictures when it just wouldn't do anything.

it's amazing how my mood can change... this original post started so positively. "i love june-august." talked about my trip last weekend to chungju, suanbo, and suwon.

f*ck it. i don't feel like writing it anymore.

mother &$(*#$U%$(#*#$# post >:{

damn it damn it DAMN IT.

just spent a good HOUR working on a post. the mother of all posts, complete with $*#$%*@ han'geul. wasn't even done, the computer froze, and i lost it all.

why do i even bother.