Friday, May 28, 2010

Korean Jerky Is NOT Jerky

[Friends of mine in Korea have found my blog.  Here's to you Zanel, Meg and William.  Let me know if you think i'm legit in my ramblings]

# 95.  Dried squid is the Korean version of jerky.   I'm all for a good piece of jerky but when it smells like something that just came out of the ocean and looks like something that got ran over by a bus...i'm not down with it.

#96.  In Korea there are metal covers over the toilet paper.  A little metal square that covers it so that the water that inevitably spills all over the bathroom doesn't soggy the paper.  Here's an idea Korea.  Why don't you just add a glass wall in the middle of the bathroom to prevent that from happening.  A proper shower. This would prevent the need for shower shoes, metal paper covers and everything in the bathroom getting soaked.  Point America for utilizing the novelty of shower doors.

#97.  Koreans have their own version of sign language.  Ok well maybe not an entire language but a few key phrases that my kids are huge fans of. The most popular with them right now is "genius". This is when you put your thumb and index finger in the shape of an L, tilt it and put it under your chin.   American kids make their friends cry by putting an L on their forehead and calling them losers.  Korean kids just like to make their friends feel inferior by flaunting their superior intelect.

Last weekend at Deokjeokdo Island was amazing.

Many firsts for me came out of that trip.  My first ferry ride.  First subway ride.  First time camping on a beach.  Those are the highlights.  The highlights that are family friendly anyways.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bully North Korea

Surprise surprise.  North Korea is angry with South Korea.  For the billionth time they are threatening war.  So what is the difference between now and all of the times before?  Well one big difference is that before good old North Korea didn't sink a ship that killed 46 South Koreans.  They didn't pretend that some other angry communist country with a horrible leader who starves his people did it.  Basically North Korea is a big fat liar and South Korea is sick of all the bullshit.  Good for them. 

While I do not want war (obviously) I do want South Korea to put its big boy pants on and make a stand.  They had an armistice with North Korea (basically a pinky promise they would be nice) and North Korea decided not to honor it.  Where I come from that is a big deal.  Renegging on a pinky promise is just not ok.  Maybe not enough to justify sending bombs to another country but a big deal nonetheless.

Okay okay...i'll get serious.  I have gotten lots of e-mails, facebook messages and phone calls about what will happen.  Long story short...if South Korea DOES in fact go to war I am getting the hell out of here.  I have gotten almost all of my money out of my Korean account, am carrying my passport and identification cards at all times and have made evac plans with my friends.  I am being a big girl and trying my best to be responsible.

 I am also trying to be the optimist that I know I am and remind myself that North Korea is a big bully who always threatens to fight the kid next to him on the swings but rarely does.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

[Here is a post with the often requested pictures.  Sometimes a picture says a thousand words.  I think my pictures say 4.  Jenn is Loving Korea. ]

At the "Holy Grill" in Daegu.  It is a western restaurant/bar that has
one of the best philly cheesesteaks ever created.  Seriously.
Come to Korea just for the philly.  You won't be disappointed.

I'm not sure how much you can see but this is me.  Fallen off the rope.
Dangling by my harness.  Probably the most uncomfortable position ever.
Some of the boys in Pohang.

A group shot after the ropes course extravaganza.

Pretty classic for a Saturday night.  Hanging out at our favorite bar, TILT

5:30 am sunrise over the Sea of Japan.  The pictures just doesn't do it justice.

A few of my fellow soccer players.

Watching my first Pohang Steelers soccer game with my JSD boys...
plus the weird guy on the far right who made us his friends for the day and sat with us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


[I apologize for my lack of posting.  Enjoy the Korean-isms]

#90.  In Korea it is illegal to find out the sex of a baby before it is born.  In the 80's babies were aborted because they were girls and now the guy/girl ratio is ridiculously off balanace.  In America there is the occasional baby shower where they want to be surprised so all of the gifts are gender neutral.  Lots of yellows.  Greens.  Reds.  In Korea every single baby shower is that way. Must be a bitch to plan.  Point America.

#91.  Contrary to popular belief not all Korean men are tiny.  Walking in downtown Korea there are men of all heights.  Most are very thin and usually as tall or taller than me.  Before coming here I refered to Korea as "the land of the tiny."  Whoops. Sorry Korea.

#92.  The cabbies here will sometimes give you treats during the ride.  A cold coffee.  Rice cake.  Hard candy.  It is accepted and enjoyed without wondering what drug it is laced with.

#93.  Teacher's Appreciation Day.  Every year there is this day where the teachers get treated like royalty.  Our students give us gifts like flowers, wine, candy and chocolates.  That's right.  I teach you English, you give me gifts.  Fair exchange.

#94.  Koreans do NOT practice the art of body grooming.  In America it is widely known that women and men trim/shave/wax certain parts of their bodies.  The lower region of their body if you get my drift.  In Korea this is just not the case.  In Korea they go au natural.

It's been a while since my last post.  Obviously.  Life at the good old Kids College is still as delightful as ever.  My babies are learning more and more English everyday.  I am making more friends as each day passes as well. I have been here for almost 3 months and am finally getting into a rythm that I enjoy. 

I've got a full week of school, soccer and who knows what else.  We have a long weekend coming up for big Buddah's Birthday so this will be a short week.  Only 4 days with the itty bitties instead of 5.  Off to Seoul on Thursday night until Sunday afternoon for some MUCH needed time out of the 'hang.  More to come on that later.

This was a spastic post.  Sorry followers.  The next will melt faces.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catfights in Korea

[Today I witnessed my first girl fight as an adult.  It needs documentation]

I am teaching my afternoon kinders the alphabet.  Today was teaching them the letter Jj.  Big J.  Little j.  I am just getting into how to make the dot when out of the corner of my eye I see a commotion in the hallway.  I look out just in time to see my supervisor get slapped in the face by my female director.  I'm talking the kind of opened handed, stinging slap that leaves a mark. 

Then the lunging, hair pulling and screaming begins.  In the middle of the school.  In full view of my 3 terrified Korean children.  Within hearing range of the rest of our afternoon kids.  They lock themselves in the office and continue to brawl.  They are tossing eachother against the glass walls.  Breaking pots.  Smashing glass.  The rest of the Korean helpers are banging on the door trying to get them to stop.  Yelling at the top of their lungs for it to stop. At least I hope it was telling them to stop and not egging them on.  Well they didn't listen.  The fighting continued.  For the next 20 minutes.

My poor little kinders are confused.  I have two boys and one girl.  Moses, John and Linda.  The boys are unfased.  They are coloring and putting together a puzzle.  Not my poor Linda.  She starts to cry, covers her ears and starts rocking back and forth.  She's scarred for life.  

What the hell Koreans.  What could have possibly been so important to start an all out brawl in the middle of our school.  As entertaining as it was it was ridiculous.  We do not fight in front of the itty bitties.  We do not throw tantrums.  We are supposed to be the ones teaching the bitties how to be big girls and boys.  Not how to be whiny girls who throw punches and lock themselves in  a room. 

Unfortunately I was not able to find out the root of the extreme anger that fueled my first Korean fight.  Tomorrow's early morning staff meeting should prove to be quite interesting.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Swastikas and Travel

#87.  In Korea there are swastikas everywhere.  The swastikas in Korea mean peace and are an ancient symbol that has a history that goes back for thousands of yeras.  Unfortunately, even though the peaceful swastika was first, Hitler made it infamous and is remembered in history.  Why Hitler just couldn't be original and make his own symbol for genocide is beyond me.  He had to go and ruin a perfectly good peace symbol from the Buddhist. 

A temple in Korea

#88.  Eggs are a staple in Korean food.  It is in everything.  While I love a good bit of egg, sometimes it is a bit much.  Do I really need egg in my soup, kimbop and rice all in one meal?  I think not.  Mix it up a little Korea. 

#89.  While on the topic of eggs...the Korean eggs are not like those found in America.  Ok so maybe you think "well, an egg is an egg."  Wrong.  Tiny eggs that vary in color from brown to speckled are just not the same as homegrown American white eggs.  They are also 99% of the time not refrigerated.  Healthy.

I have finally picked out where I am going on my upcoming holidays so get ready to be o so jealous.  My summer holiday (yes i've started calling it holiday instead of vacation because of all my damn british friends) is in the end of July and I will be spending it in the Phillipenes.  Who would have ever thought I would spend a holiday there?  Not me.  I am also going to go to China in the fall to see the Great Wall.  My winter holiday is going to be spent in South Africa. 

Just call me world traveler.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


#84.  Koreans talk with their mouths full.  This does not just pertain to younger children.  All ages do this.  In America children are taught at a very young age to chew with their mouths shut.  In Korea that is just not the case.  Mouths gaping open. Talking with a full view of your lunch to Bob across from you.  Half eaten pieces of kimbop is exactly what I want to see. Yes please.

#85.  Yellow dust.  What is yellow dust you may ask?  The specific definition is  a "seasonal meteorological phenomenon" that affects much of East Asia during the springtime.  Thank you Wikipedia. For the rest of us who don't understand that fancy pants is basically pollution coming over from China in the form of yellow dust.  The wind blows it through our open windows and onto our floor.  Into buses.  Into our lungs.

Imagine breathing in tiny particles of sand at the beach, make it yellow and pump it full of sulfur and other chemicals.  That's what we get to breathe during the spring.  April showers bring May flowers?  Nope. Not in Korea.  April flowers bring yellow dust.  Nice-suh.

#86.  May 5th is officially recognized as Children's Day.  It is a national holiday.  No work for the parents.  No school for the itty bitties.  All fun and games.  And gifts.  On my Children's Day I got bruises from paintball.  My kids got phones.  New bikes.  Puppies.  They win.  Point Korea.

I had my very first paintball experience on Wednesday.  I can now say that I have done paintball in Korea.  I can also say that it is something I will not do again.  The idea of being a human target for people to mercilessly shoot tiny balls of paint (that leave painful welts) is just not appealing to me.  The uniforms are also not ideal.  Think of a huge black jumpsuit, 2 vests, 2 pairs of gloves and a helmet.  Imagine running up and down hills all while trying to avoid getting pelted.  The statement "we were sweating" is the understatment of the century.

 I spent the majority of the games unsuccessfully hiding behind the barricades trying not to get shot.

I had a blast hanging out with friends and experiencing something new but it will be a one time thing.  When else will I be able to say that I played paintball in Korea?

Paintballin' Pohangsters

Barrels of oil acting as our stepping stools for our photo shoot

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bukbu Beach, Conservative Koreans, Volleyball

[Pictures were taken by Chris Kuisle and Darin Novak]

#82. Koreans are very conservative when it comes to clothing. They don't like to see women's bare shoulders. My coworker Jen has actually been slapped on the arm by an Ajumma for exposing her shoulder skin. Honestly Koreans. If you are that worried about shoulder skin you should come to America and take a look around. It'll shock you into the 21st century.

#83.  Even when it is hot out Koreans cover up their skin.  Long pants.  Long-sleeved tshirts.  Visors.  Umbrellas.  Basically they come out to get sand in their underwear, judge the foreigners for wearing tank tops and complain about how hot it is.  Sounds like my idea of a fun day.

Today was 80 degrees with a blue sky and not a cloud in sight.  The first hot day since my arrival in Pohang deserved a day at the beach.  I have a feeling that  Bukbu beach will be my home away from home on the weekends.  Miles of sandy beach.  Bathrooms nearby.  Restaurants a short walk away.  Volleyball.  Soccer. It's the perfect spot.

View from Bukbu Beach

Rainbows at the beach.  Love it.

The only downside to being a beach bum is that all of the foreigners tend to bum together...thus creating the "caged animal" effect.  While playing volleyball we literally had entire rows of Koreans just watching us.  No cheering.  Minimal talking.  Just watching those foreigners attempt to play volleyball

Our "cheering" section

Their minimal talking was translated for us by one of our Korean friends.  It went something like this.

"Why don't they try and hit the ball harder?!"
"The ball didn't go very far."
"Why are they playing this game?"
"I can see her underwear."
"They're not very good."
"Why isnt' she wearing more clothes?"
"They drink alot of beer."

Basically, Koreans like to judge you.  Constantly.