Friday, April 30, 2010

Unusual Koreans and Pictures

#78.  In Korea alcohol is acceptable to drink pretty much anywhere.  You can drink outside.  Inside. In a moving car.  In a bus. In a taxi.  Anywhere.  Double plus points to Korea.

#79.  The light switch for the bathroom is outside the door.  During the day when the rest of the lights are on this is not a problem.  Turn the lights off and make it 3am and it proves to be annoying as hell.  I always forget that it's on the outside so I spend a few minutes looking for the damn thing, turn on the bedroom light and remember where it is. 

#80.  Most apartments are motion sensored.  This is a handy dandy little invention senses when i'm walking down the hall and turns a light on.  Genius.  It saves on electricity (i'm assuming) and basically makes me feel like i'm back at the Indianapolis airport where the motion censored walkway lights up when you walk down to the gate.  You say waste of money, I say rockin technology.

#81.  Most water coolers have hot and cold water.  You know the office kind of water cooler where everyone has the latest gossip of that week?  Well imagine it having hot water too!  You can have instant coffee or tea while discussing if Mary Sue should stay with Billy Bob even though he's cheating on her with Emmy Lou from accounting.  And no I have no idea why all of those people have redneck names.  Seemed fitting.

Not really a whole lot going on here in the 'Hang so I thought i'd give you some pictures of my kiddies and their awe-inspiring cuteness. Get ready to say "awwwww" repeatedly. Accept it. It's gonna happen.

"Ring Around the Rosy" with the babies

Probably in the top 5 of any picture I have ever taken.
Pictures like this are why I love my job. 

Teaching Christina and Sunny how to read "I Like Stars."

My upper 7 kinders.  Super smart. Super cute.  Double threat. 

My part time Kinder 6's.  They are tiny little buggers
 but their smiles melt my heart. 

Painting eggs

Jen and I in Gyeongju with our All Day Kinders

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rant Rant Rant

This is going to be a bit of a rant.  I apologize in advance.

I have said before that Hagwans (private schools) treat the education of the itty bitties like more of a business instead of a school.  This could not have been more apparant than it was yesterday. 

Imagine trying to teach a class and running out of time to do the "required" pages.  I put the "required" in quotes because the number of pages is decided over a month before actually having that specific class.  It's called a lesson plan.  A plan.  Plans change.  It's been known to happen.  Today I planned to go to the gym in the morning but ended up switching it to the evening because I was too tired. plan changed and the world didn't come to an end.  Tricky.

So back to the "required" pages.  It was time to line up and we had 2 pages left.  Now to me all that means is that we will have to do those pages next time.  Not in Korea.  Not at my school.  I was told by my supervisor to copy the answers to the pages down on the board for them to copy.  I guess by copying the answers and not figuring them out for themselves they will learn them better?  Not.  She then proceeds to tell me to go around to the kids and speed color in their pages so that they are done.

Me:  But doesn't that defeat the purpose of teaching?
Her:  Well yes...but it needs to get done.  Go color their pages.
Me:  I'm not coloring their pages.  We will do it next week.
Her:  It needs to be done today.  Go color his square red.

Needless to say I did not in fact color his square red.  I refused.  I put my size 8 foot down (huge in Korea) and held my ground.  Well I guess I didn't make my point because she went around and colored in all the shapes for them, made them late for the bus and cut into my prep time for my next class.

Korean education frustrate me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Love Motels and Soccer

#74.  The cheap motels in Korea are called "love motels."  The name pretty much says it all.  No description necessary. 

#75.  Most Koreans have two refrigerators.  One for regular food and one for kimchi.  As i've said in previous posts, kimchi is basically spoiling cabbage with a ton of spices.  Smelly shit.  After two months I still hate kimchi so the likelihood of me needing that spare refrigerator is nonexistant.

#76.  At sporting events the concession stands serve traditional korean food.  One food served in the stands was kimbop.  Think fancy california roll.  Instead of hearing "get your peanuts!  get your peanuts!" it was "get your kimbop! get your kimbop" (i'm assuming that was the translation from the yelling and hand signals)  It's unbelievably weird to watch people cheering on a team while holding chopsticks. I miss the popcorn, hotdogs and beer.

#77.  Also at sporting events Korean flags are distributed to wave during the game.  Hundreds of Korean flags waving wildly during a goal.  Point Korea for their patriotism.

This week has gone by ridiculously fast.  It's Thursday already.  I've played two days of soccer and I feel like my legs will fall off.  Can legs actually fall off?  If they can mine are on their way.  2 hours each day of running after Korean men who ball handle like it's their damn JOB.  It'll take the energy right outta 'ya. 

I did however get a Korean soccer teacher.  This little old man decided that I sucked at soccer and I was going to be his student.  Rock it.  I'll take whatever help I can get.  Obviously our conversation included more hand signals and alot of motioning but I ended up improving my game in a big way.  I can now dribble (not very well), pass (but not with accuracy) and block goals (as long as they aren't hit too hard).  Ok well maybe to you it's not an improvement but you should have seen where I started.  Imagine a small child who is JUST learning how to play soccer and is afraid the ball with hurt him.  Yup.  That was me.  Not anymore. Bring it on ball.  I've got your number.

One of the perks of having a Korean soccer teacher is that they give you soccer cleats.  Ok well maybe not ALL soccer teachers give cleats away but mine did.  It helps that i'm the only girl on the team.  It was a probably a pity gift.  I have zero problem with that.  Pity me.

If it helps my soccer game i'm all about it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

80's, Daegu, Ropes Course

[All of these pictures are from friends in Pohang.  Big big thank you to Pearl, Darin, Jared and Kyle for taking amazing pictures!  Hopefully my camera will be fixed in a few weeks!]

So this past weekend was by far the best since arriving to the land of the tiny people.  My friends from Pohang made it a birthday weekend to remember that's for sure.  Let me give you a quick rundown.

Friday was the 80's party.  It was complete with spandex, huge hair and anything florescent we could find.  The pictures pretty much say enough.

Pohang, 80's style

The ladies in the 'Hang know how to make the 80's look good

Kyle with the Pohang Steelers mascot.  Notice the peace
sign?  In Korea when a camera comes out so does that.

Saturday was my very first professional soccer game (Pohang Steelers) and our trip to Daegu.  Unfortunately the Steelers lost 0-1.  Maybe we are bad luck? 

Saturday afternoon through Sunday night was my first overnight trip outside of Pohang.  It was phenomenal but ridiculously expensive.  Good thing I get paid in a week!  We walked around to all the different shops around town and then had dinner at the Holy Grill.  It is a western bar and grill and has amazing food.  I never thought I would miss bruschetta and a good philly cheesesteak as much as I do.  Probably in the top 3 of the best i've ever had.  Yum!  (Unfortunately pictures of the bar and our travels that night are not up on good old facebook yet so all you picture lovers will have to be patient *cough cough mom*)

Sunday was the ropes course.  Now imagine a "theme park" filled with cutesy little pop up pictures, an animal petting zoo (complete with the incredible escaping monkey), couples in identical clothing and a huge ropes course complete with zip lines...and you have my afternoon. 

This Korean girl does not like her duck shirt, or maybe having
her picture taken by 30+ foreigners.

The Promise Garden

For all of you who are not "ropes course savy" here is basically a rundown of what it is.

A ropes course is basically a huge obstacle course that you complete while suspended on cables about 100 ft in the air.  Ok it sounds dangerous but it's really not.  You get a super awesome helmet, little grey gloves and a harness to wear.  If you fall the combination of all of those will save you from death.  That was my thought process at least. In all was super safe and super awesome. 

You climb ropes (which I fell off of), climb ladders, scale a tightrope (which I ALMOST fell off of) and so much more.  The best part of the entire thing is when you strap yourself into a 200ft cable and zipline yourself in the air to the other side of the park.  2 words for the experience of a zip line.  FREAKING AWESOME.  Nothing but air and the trees around you.  The only bad part is that all good things must come to an end...and the end of a zipline is a huge green cushion that you basically just slam yourself into in order to come to a stop.  My bruises have bruises.

A view to show you exactly how far we had to go
via zip line.  Pretty awesome. 

Green cushion.  Hard hat.  Cable.  Completely safe.

After an amazing weekend school was the last thing I wanted to do.  Trading 80's clothing, western food and adventure for snotty kids, crying kids and trying to explain to a child why the "n" on "vacumn" is silent?  No thanks.  Thankfully the munchkins behaved themselves and my day was full of arts and crafts and random assignments that took the entire class period so the day went by ridiculously fast.  Thank you sweet baby Jesus.

Wow ok.  Long post.  Sorry for the "On Friday I did...On Saturday I did...On Sunday I did."  I hate reading posts that give the lifestory of someone.  I don't give a crap that you woke up and brushes your teeth and then played world of warcraft for 14 hours.  At least I did something with my weekend.  Hopefully you weren't too bored and it inspired you to try something adventurous this week.  Maybe find a ropes course of your own?  No?  Ok well just live vicariously through me.

The next adventure?  Paintball.  It's gonna be epic.  Be on the lookout.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday Snapshot

So I don't have a camera...but here is one pic from my birthday dinner with some of my closest friends here in the 'Hang.  For those of you don't know what "the 'Hang" is 1.)  I am disappointed and 2.) it means Pohang.  Get with it.

The friends that make it all worth it.
From left to right:  (back row) Fred, Chris, Allan, Tanya, Ryan, Jen, Me, Jon, Nick, Tim
(front row) Natasha, Claire, Kyle, Elly

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Turning 24 in Korea

#72.  Koreans celebrate birthdays just like in America.  You get a birthday cake but theirs are a bit more elaborate.  Think Ace of Cakes elaborate.  The one I received from my school looked like a little house.  Complete with an intricate yard and windows. 

#73.  Koreans also celebrate their birthday on the New Year.  Every single Korean celebrates their birthday as one on this day.  Awesome.  Two days a year for birthdays.  Cake and presents twice a year?  Point Korea. 

Well today is the big day.  The big 24th birthday.  My first away from my family and friends.  The first in a foreign country.  I am a lucky girl and got presents from my family and cards from friends so it did feel pretty normal in that regard.  I love that I am loved enough to receive all the facebook wall posts, cards and even a few presents from friends and family.  It makes a day like today much more enjoyable.

Today I got a birthday cake at school and  the traditional "Happy Birthday" song but it just wasn't the same.  Hopefully the birthday dinner tonight, birthday party tomorrow and birthday trip to Daegu this weekend will make it a bit more special. 

Come on Korea.  Rock my birthday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Puppet Peace Signs

Picture from the Soju Festival.  Creepy puppet men with peace signs.
Pretty much what Korea is all about.

The foreigners had to sign a registration sheet so that
they could keep track of us.  That's discriminatory. 

Fruits and Fashion

[I got a birthday card from my Uncle Bob and Aunt Teresa today.  Thanks so much! Anything by snail mail brightens up my day!]

#67.  The prices of fruits/vegetables is ridiculous.  You would think that in a coastal city that the price of fresh grocery items would be lower.  That would be a big hell no.  The price of fish and anything from the sea is cheap but anything that grows out of garden?  Be ready to give your first born child.

#68.  Mothers carry their children on their backs.  In America kids are put into backpack-eque contraptions so that mommy or daddy have their hands free.  The same is true in Korea except it's not a backpack.  It's a piece of long cloth that is wrapped around to keep the kid in.  To watch it is impressive.  The kid hands on to the back of the parent's neck and the parent just starts wrapping away.  No assistance needed.

Nothing fancy.  Just a huge piece of cloth. 

#69.  Korean fashion is a mix between prostitute and high fashion. Here is an example.  A woman will walk around the streets of Pohang in 4 inch stilletos and booty shorts...but have it be socially acceptable because she has tights on underneath.  The tights (though transparant) somehow make the whole outfit perfectly acceptable. 

This is the best I could find.  Just imagine
an outfit with less fabric and see through tights.

#70.  Korean women love their shoes.  In America you see women get dressed up to go out on the town or for a special occasion.  In Korea there is no occasion too casual to not wear their stilletos.  An afternoon walk to the market?  Bright red stilletos.  A walk to the corner store for milk?  Pointed neon yellow pumps.  At least they are getting their money's worth.

#71.  Korean children learn chinese.  At 4 years old I didn't know English.  These kids are triligual.  Point Korea.

Our weekly soccer game was last night.  I didn't get a cleat to the knee or get a nose bleed so I consider it an overwhelming success.  We added another game to our weekly schedule so now I play on Mondays AND Wednessdays.  It just increases the likelihood of getting hurt.  OR turning into a kick ass soccer player. 

My bet is on getting hurt. 

We'll see on Wednesday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Parents are Cooler than Your Parents

[My friends in Korea learned of my amazing Catchphrase abilities last night.  Anyone who has played this game (or any other game that involves clues and guessing) knows that I get a little...umm...excited.  By excited I mean that I scream the answer loud enough for people in the next building to hear me loud and clear.  I can't help it.  Something takes over me and it just comes out.  Thankfully everyone thinks it's cute instead of annoying as hell.  Lucky me.]

#66.  Korean children get perms.  Boys and girls.  You read that correctly.  You will see a little boy around the age of 4 with straight hair one day and the next day have curly hair.  Apparantly curly hair is more attractive.  Since when does a 4 year old child give a crap about his hair.  I'm pretty sure I didn't at that age. Oh Koreans.

So I have the best parents ever.  If you think yours are better take a trip to Brownsburg, Indiana and see for yourself the awesomeness of Joan and Randy.  It is my birthday on Thursday and I got my birthday package today.  Not only did they send me flip flops (impossible to find in Korea) and new clothes but they sent me enough cold medicine to take care of the entire city of Pohang for the foreseeable future.  

Take that Korea and your weak medicine.  I have western medicine on my side now.  Bring it on.

I am one lucky girl.  Thanks Mom.  Thanks Dad.  Love you.  Mean it.  Long time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rice and Liquor Festival

[Pictures taken by Chris Kuisle and Jared Gramza]

[Thanks to everyone for all the sweet comments about making sure i'm doing ok with the Korean sickness ridiculousness.  I am finally over the worst of it and now just have an annoying cold.  Hopefully the magic Korean medicine combined with the medicine on its way to me from my Dad should be able to make me kick this cold for good.]

Ok. Back to the Korean oddities.

#63. Koreans love their television to be accesible. You see tvs in a taxi, bus, market, bar...anyplace that frequents people. Some taxi drivers prefer to catch up on their soaps while taking their fares to Homeplus while others feel like Korean music videos are the way to go. You just never know what you're going to get.

#64.  Taxis are very inexpensive.  A cab from my apartment to the foreigner hangout bar costs less than $3.  In America it would cost at least double, if not triple. 

#65.  Other forms of transportation are inexpensive as well.  A 25 mile bus ride  from Pohang to Gyeongju costs less than $3.  Point Korea.

I know it's been awhile since i've written on here but honestly with being so sick I didn't do a whole lot until the weekend.  Hopefully this week will be markedly better than last week. It includes my second soccer game of the season, trying live octopus and my first birthday in a foreign country. It should prove to a week I won't soon forget. I hope.

Ok quick recap of the highlights of my weekend.  My first jaunt out of the confines of my bed was to Gyeongju on Saturday for the big blossom festival/soju rice festival.  You combine 10,000+ Koreans, 500+ foreigners, carvinal food of every variety and free alcohol makes for quite the interesting day.  Everyone seems to like the pictures I post on here so here a few.  More will come later.

Amazing Korean man doing the tightrope

More beautiful blossoms

FREE samples of Soju.  In total, close to 30 different kinds. 

The festival was amazing and I cannot wait until the next one.  Koreans love their liquor, food and entertainment.  What else can a girl ask for?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I hate needles

#62.  Koreans give injections for colds.  Injections meaning plural.  When I heard injection I thought it would go in the arm.  Like vaccines.  Nope.  Not that lucky.  These specific shots are given in the butt.  Awesome.  Not only do I have a sore throat and headaches that just won't quit, let's add a sore butt to the list of symptoms. 

Now in America if I would have gone to a doctor with my symptoms they would have probably given me antibiotics, inhaler and requested that I get plenty of rest and liquids.  Well i'm definitely not in America anymore.

In Korea they give injections out like they are freaking candy.  You go into a little room, they fill up their magic needles and they stick ya.  Hard.  No warning.  No 1,2,3.  Surprise!

The antibiotics you take are in a packet of 8-12 little capsules.  To be taken at once.  Three times a day.  It looks like i'm downing a freaking pharmacy after every meal.  You know the GNC packs you can get that have all of the required vitamins and supplements for each day?  Yea that's what mine look like only a bit more sketch.  9 in all.  Do the math and it's 27 a day. 

Have I ever mentioned that I hate to swallow pills?

Well I do. 

Especially big ones that are double the size of a peanut M&M.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ajummas and Chicken Noodle Soup

[So my dad has gotten some of his coworkers to read my blog on here.  It's sometimes weird (but awesome) to think that people who read my blog I have never (and probably will never meet).  I'm glad that I can bring a little laughter or insight into their lives.  Hopefully both.  Keep the comments coming.  I love 'em. ]

#60.   Old Korean women (Ajummas) wear visors. Everywhere. Think of the visors your mom wore to your athletic events when you were younger only bigger. Much bigger.

Ajummas are notorious for their visors.  While the visors do help shield the face from the sun it also results in the wearer looking as ridiculous as humanly possible. Almost Darth Vader-ish. Koreans don't like the sun because of the effect it has on their skin.  Here in Korea light skin is desired by all.  Pretty much the opposite of America.  If someone has dark skin they are thought to be poor and have a job that requires them to be outside laboring.  If someone has light skin they are thought to be wealthy. Just one of the little quirks of Koreans.

#61.  Koreans love whitening masks.  They want their skin to look as white as possible because white is considered a sign of beauty.   It is very similar to the masks Americans use to make their skin firmer or without acne.  Theirs supposedly will make their skin white. Who knows.

Well my weekend in Korea definitely could have been better.  It started off great on Friday with pizza (my first since landing) and drinks with friends downtown but ended horribly with my cold coming back with a vengence Saturday morning.  It is now Sunday afternoon and with exception of a 3 hot showers (mistakely thought the hot water would help) and a quick walk outside for cough drops I have been confined to my bed. 

Remember the medicine I had to take 3x a day to get rid of this nasty thing?  All gone.  Still have the cold.  If anything it's gotten worse.  Big thank you to the Korean pharmacy.  Your tiny pills are just not enough to kick this.

Due to my sickness I was unable to attend the cherry blossom festival in Kyongju Saturday.  Thankfully my friends took plenty of pictures.  The below pictures are from my friend  Darin Novak.  This is what  I would have seen if I would have NOT gotten the plague.

Beautiful aren't they?

Sorry for the debbie downer post.  Being sick sucks.  Being sick in a foreign country without the comforts of certain things to make you feel better sucks even more.  My paticular comforts are hot baths and mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.

 Right now I would pay an obscene amount of money for one bowl of that soup.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


[Just wantd to give a big THANK YOU to Des, Dustin and Angela for the cards.  I love getting snail mail.  It brightens up my entire day when I go to that mailbox and see something there.  You three made my day!]

#59.  Bank accounts in Korea are intensely complicated.  Foreigners who want to send money home have to have two seperate accounts.  One account is for solely Korean expenses.  One is for currency exchange.  Apparantly they don't just have one account that can do both.  Point for American banks.

Clearly from the above I finally opened my Korean bank account(s). Eventually they were opened but the process was quite the experience.  For the first time in my life I was discriminated against for being American. Over and over again.  My director went with me to translate but at every window they took one look at me, did the hand signal for no and said "No English.  No American. No." and promptly waved a Korean forward.  Ouch.    Now I know what being discriminted feels like. I guess I just never thought that being an American was something to be discriminated against.  Look at me and my pompus "Americans are the best.  Who would hate us?!" attitude. 

#60.  Postcards in Korea are hard to find.  It is not at all like America, with post cards in every touristy city.  Hell, there are post cards in every non-touristy city.  Brownsburg has post cards.  Sorry Brownsburgians (Brownsburgians?  Brownsburgites?) but who seriously would wants to write from Brownsburg with a post card.  "Hey.  I'm in Brownsburg."  Thrilling. 

Today was my first field trip with the munchkins.  We went to Gyeongju (pronounced just like it looks) which is about 40 minutes by van. We walked around and took in the scenery (gorgeous) and took so many pictures.  The kids didn't seem all that impressed but Jen and I certainly were.  There is so much history in the temples and statutes that it's ridiculous.  Hand painted statutues, murrals on walls, intricate scrolls on the tops of's intense. 

Gorgeous temple in the middle of Gyeongju

Ghoup shot before we left.

Right as we were leaving we took a picture in front of a huge rock that had a Korean inscription.  Don't ask me what it said because I don't have a damn clue.  It was huge and other people took pictures in front of it like it was we did too.  Right as we were getting up to leave a group of about 20 people started yelling "American American! Come. Come."  We ended up having to take pictures with a group of Vietnamese tourists

They were so excited to take their picture with us and every single person wanted their own photo with the Americans.  They kept jumping up to switch out cameras and just kept smiling.  We were smack dab in the middle of the group and it was all I could do to just keep smiling.  How can I not.  If taking their picture with me made them happy then why the hell not.  I'll do it. 

When will I ever be such a celebrity again.  Not in America.  Definitely not in America. 

Sally.  The cutest tiny Korean cowgirl ever. 

The amazing feats we had for lunch.  Kimbap (Korean sushi), fresh fruit,
rice balls and egg battered crab.  Yum!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gas Station Attendants

[Got to talk to my little sister today.  We are in the mix of planning a trip for her to come visit sometime around Christmas.  Yes, I know that Christmas is forever away but it'll give me something to look forward to.  Anyone who knows us can just imagine all of the shananigans we could get ourselves into.  God help South Korea if this all pulls through!]

#58.  There are gas station attendants at every gas station.  They all wear matching outfits and run as quickly as humanly possible to the cars. Think Olympics.  100 yard dash.   It's as if they are afraid the customer is going to change their mind if they don't run fast enough.

My first thought was that having attendants was old fashioned.  Pumping gas isn't rocket science.  People should be able to do it all by themselves.  Without assistance.  It's 2010 not 1910.  In Korea that's just not how things are done.  By not switching to self-serve pumps they create more jobs for the everyday man.  Genius.  Plus as an added bonus the driver of the car doesn't get the unpleasant gas smell all over his hands.  And he can sit in the car and listen to his favorite song that just came on the radio as soon as he pulled into the station.

Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  Yet another point to the Koreans.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Keepin' the Devil Away

#57.  In Korean markets (Homeplus) there are no cold medicines.  No Sudafed-like drugs to help you get over a cold.  They have separate stand alone pharmacies that have all of the cold medicines.

Today I woke up with a cold.  I blame my little snot-nosed kids who refuse to use Kleenex, wipe their noses on their sleeves and then run to me for a hug.  And my school wonders why the kids are always sick at the same time.  Or why the teachers get sick too.  Common sense friends.

My supervisor took me to the pharmacy and after alot of the throat pointing they understood I needed medicine.  The medicine is in tiny little capsules that you have to take 3x a day.  It will help me "fight cold and keep devil away"...literal translation.

It'll keep the devil away eh? For less than $2 that is quite the deal.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Washing Machine Woes

#55.   Hagwons (private English schools) don't pay with actual checks.  They pay in cash or a direct deposit into an account.  When they pay in cash they give it to you in a paper sack.  Think the brown paper kind you took your lunch to school in.  There is no pay stub or any kind of documentation telling me how much I am getting paid for my records or what kind of deductions are being witheld. Tax time next year is gonna suck for sure.

#56.  Korean landlords have no problem coming into apartments at any time of day or night.  A quick knock on the door and yelling in Korean lets you know they're coming in.  Thanks for the notice.  I'll just stand here while you judge me for the clothes being on the floor and my music being too loud. 

I have been without a working washing machine for the 6 weeks that i've been in Korea.  Well technically it works but instead of draining the water from the machine into the pipe, it drains the water from the machine onto the floor of my laundry room.  And YES I have washed my clothes since being here.  I know what you were thinking.  Thankfully my co-worker Jen lives below me and doesn't mind me using hers.

After 6 weeks of complaining it finally got "fixed."  Now I use the " " because after the landlords (wife and husband) came to fix still leaks all over the laundry room. They "fixed" it by sticking scissors down the drain and wiggling them around.  He gave me the thumbs up.  She grabs an extra fitted sheet and throws it into the washing machine, runs to me (sitting on the bed feeling as awkward as humanly possible) and holds my fingers over the buttons while she pushes the power button on and off.  On and off.  I get it lady.  You push it turns on.  You push it again it turns off.  I know how to start a washing machine.  I'm pretty sure my button pushing skills aren't the reason for laundry water to spew all over my apartment. 

Needless to say she starts the washing machine and tells me "Water. No."  30 minutes later the water is covering the floor of my laundry room.  "Water. YES."

Thanks to the water lady and her not-so-magical scissors,  I have now missed my soccer game.  Sorry team.  Blame her and her scissors.  I know I do.

Traffic lights and Copyright laws

[ I got to talk to Mom on Easter.  Even though we are so far away that 10 minute conversation sure helped.  Thanks Mom! ]

#52.  In Korea the traffic lights are horizontal instead of vertical.  They still have the red, yellow and green but it's horizontal.  Some also have 4 lights instead of 3 for the arrows.  No more broken lights from swinging in bad weather.  Makes sense.

#53.  The respect that younger people have for older people is amazing.  If you are on a bus and an elderly woman gets on the bus and there are no seats?  Young people give up their seat.  On a bench waiting for the bus and you see an old man?  You give up the seat.  No questions asked.  In America this is considered common courtesy but itsn't always practiced in certain parts of the country.  In Korea it's just part of daily life.  Respect your elders.  It's simple. 

#54.  Copyright laws are not enforced.  Let me give an example.  On a billboard in downtown there is Tiger Woods holding a shirt from a specific clothing store.  Now when I say "holding a shirt" I actually mean someone photoshopped (poorly) the shirt into his hands.  Not legit.  You walk down the street and can see Brad Pitt in a store for baby clothes.  Mel Gibson on the walls in a lingerie store.  In America a lawsuit would be filed in a second.  In Korea?  Meh. Guess not.  It's just the way they do things.  Rules just do not apply.

So yesterday was Easter. My first holiday away from home.  No big Easter dinner. No Easter chocolates.  No Easter family pictures.  It was weird to spend the day in Korea of all places.  I tried to find a church to go to but all of the ones closest to me are in Korean and I didn't think I could handle an hour of church in a foreign language.  Especially in a foreign language where most of the time they sound completely angry.  Hopefully i'll be able to find a good church here with at least SOME English before Christmas.  Or at least be able to understand more Korean by then.

Well it's Monday and you know what that means.  Soccer.  2 hours of running and ball handling that proves just how unimpressive I am at the game.  Let's hope I don't have a repeat of the bodily injuries of last week.  I'm not sure my poor knee can handle another cleat imprint...even though it was totally impressive and awesome.

Or at least I think it was.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ladies night, Nerds and Broken Cameras

[I got my first cards on Friday.  Thank you Mom, Dad and Tyler.  Getting cards make my days so much better!  They are proudly displayed on my walls as my decorations]

#47.  There is no sales tax.  If the sign says that the carrot is 1,000 Won it is 1,000 Won.  They don't trick you like Indiana does.  In America if the sign says that the carrot is $1 you can't give them that $1 and walk out.  You have to give them the buck and then rifle through your pockets and purse for that six or seven extra  cents.  Korea has the right idea.  Get with it Indiana.

#48.  It is a sign of respect to give things with two hands.  When my kids give me their homework with two hands they are being nice and respectful.  I hate to say it but I favor the kids who give me things with two hands. 

#49.  Bowing is also a sign of respect.  You enter a shop.  Bow.  You leave the shop.  Bow.  I've almost got the bowing thing down pat. 

#50.  In Pohang the USA military base is very close to the foreign bars.  There is a new wave of Marines every 6 weeks or so.  Unfortunately the military men in Korea give the military as a whole a bad reputation.  Military men automatically think that because they are white and you are white that you want to get it on.  Couldn't be further from the truth.  Yes we both speak English but the way to a woman's heart is not to stare at her chest or butt.  Or grab either one.  It's attached and it's not yours.  Hands off buddy

#51.  Koreans like to impress foreigners by speaking English.  At a restaurant I try and use Korean words for ordering.  I always think it's nice when someone in America tries to learn English.  I figured I would do the same.  Sometimes it's helpful but then you get a server who wants to show off his English.  It's impressive what they can say and understand.  It is apparant in the Korean culture of today that the majority of teenagers can speak at least minimal English.  The older generations still have no clue.  I've learned to just go with it and see what happens.

The past few days have been busy but so much fun. 

Friday.  After I got done with school and a quick workout at the gym I met up with the Jang Sang Dong crew for a little dinner.  Then the girls went to Edong (a 20 minute cab ride) to hang out with the girls of Pohang.  We had girls night complete with guitar playing, gossip and blended fruit soju drinks.  Now you all know that I do not play the guitar.  It is however something I think I may TRY to learn.  Guitars here are pretty inexpensive and I think it might be something useful to learn.  By useful I mean impressive. The blended fruit soju drink was killer.  We cut up all kinds of fruits (kiwi, pineapple, pear, strawberries) and put them in a blender with juices and of course, soju. Now Soju is a rice liquor that is most comparable to vodka but much sweeter.  It givese the drink a little kick.  Girls night was exactly what I needed.  Hours with girls who are becomming my close friends bitching about the life of an English teacher in Korea that really only they would understand.  Definitely something that will happen again..SOON!

Saturday.  This was the day of the epic Lady and the Nerd party.  One of our good friends Jana (pronounces Yanna) had a birthday so we decided to make it a theme party.  Boys as nerds.  Girls as ladies.  Let's just say that the boys rivaled the nerdiness of Steve Urkel and the nerds off of Saved by the Bell.

Tim  at his nerdy finest. 

With my co-worker Jen at TILT

And that is my weekend in a nutshell.  Sundays are my exploring day so it's off to town I go.  First stop is to find a shop to fix my camera.  I have been here about 6 weeks and already broke the damn thing.  I was in the process of taking a picture last night and someone jostled me and it fell out of my hand and onto the floor.  It was one of those slow motion "NOOOOOOOOOO" complete with the dive to catch it.  Clearly my diving skills are not up to par.  If it is not fixable i'll just buy a new one (they are less than $100 here so all in all not a bad deal) but i'm still broke as a joke...but not for long.  Payday is Monday so hopefully it'll be a big one. 

Fingers crossed.  Toes too.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


#46.  When new students come to an English school without an English name it is sometimes customary to let the teacher pick one for the student.  Today I had that joy.  I named my new girl Kelly.  Thought it fit.  She looked like a Kelly.  Hope she doesn't resent me later like Apple (the daughter of Gweneth Paltrow) will as soon as she realizes that her parents named her after a fruit. 

My post today is going to be short and sweet.  Today is all about traditions.  Here in Pohang we have started quite a few.

Mondays and (soon to be) Thursdays is soccer.  2 hours of soccer with a bunch of Korean men who speak very little to no English.  The little they do know is "nice" or "Okay". The little Korean we know is "hello", "thank you", "goodbye", "two".   Not really useful in planning the teams for soccer or for general conversation about whether the ball was in or out.  If we didn't have the hand signals we would be up a certain creek without a paddle.  You know the creek i'm refering to.

Tuesday is poker.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have never played a single poker game in my life before coming to Korea.  I still have yet to actually participate but i'm going to try for next week.  Could be interesting.  Maybe i'll find out that I am amazing in poker and win a million dollars.  Remember how I thought that maybe my soccer skills would be amazing and i'd make a million dollars by going pro?  Yea.  Two words.  Pipe dream.

Wednesday is "Club TILT."  TILT is a foreigner bar located downtown.  The entire foreign crew of Pohang ( about 40+) get together and hang out until the wee hours of the morning.  It has kareoke, cheap drinks and microphones.  An amazing combination.

Every other Saturday we have our Pohang Softball games.  If you have read any of my posts about softball you understand why this tradition will continue.  So much fun.

I'm busy.  I love it.  Plus it gives me interesting stuff to write on here about.  Just think how boring reading this blog would be if it was "I went to school and taught tiny Koreans their ABC's.  I went home.  I went to bed"  over and over again.  I would have exactly TWO  followers:  my mom and dad.  Everyone knows that parents think that their kids art work or stories are amazing even when no one else does.  Unconditional love baby.

Good thing i'm social and do more than work and sleep.  Lucky for you.