Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve.

It's officially Christmas Eve here in Pohang, South Korea.  It's that time of year for caroling, Christmas cookies and my Mom's famous heart attack casserole.  Unfortunately for yours truly, this year will be a little different.  Christmas Eve for me will consist of playing with the  cutest kids in creation, eating Korean food and riding a bus to the airport for a beach vacation with some of my closest friends.  Not exactly a down home Christmas, but one that will definitely be remembered.

It doesn't exactly feel like Christmas.  Without the snow and the familiarness of home it just isn't the same.  Maybe that is the reason why I am not feeling more homesick than I am.  Of course reading the Facebook statuses about a winter wonderland Christmas or singing Christmas carols in a language I actually understand make me homesick, but somehow it doesn't seem real all the way over here.  When I don't see all of the reminders of what I am missing I almost forget about it all.  Of course I remember and miss my family and friends, but the fun of what I miss is somehow replaced by the fun and memories I am making.

This time tomorrow I will be on a bus and headed for the airport.  My duffel bag is packed full with tank tops, flip flops and sundresses.  The weather is forecasted for 92 degrees on Christmas day in Bangkok, Thailand.  A far cry from the blankets of white snow that has been covering the the majority of the midwest during the past few weeks.

From December 25th-Janurary 2nd I will be in a country where there are a million things I want to do.  In Thailand I want to ride an elephant, go to the tiger temple, lay out on the beach and so many more.  I have a vague list of things I want to do but if they don't get crossed off it's ok.  I'm honestly just excited to get away from Pohang.  Get away from Kids College.  Get away from my itty bitties.  An entire week of sun, relaxation and fun with some of the best people I know.  I consider myself blessed.

To whoever is reading this, I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy and fulfilled New Year.  Thank you for coming with me on this journey through the ups and downs in Korea.

See you in 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fan Death, Sashes and Whiteness

[I'm not quite feeling the Christmas post that should be written by now, so instead here are a few new Koreanisms that surprise even me.]

#153.  In Korea there is such thing as "fan death."  Koreans actually believe that if someone is sleeping with an electric fan turned on in a sealed room, they will die.  Not "could die" but will die.  Here are just a few of the many ways a fan can prematurely end the life of someone risky enough to tempt fate with a fan.  It can cause the temperature of the room to cool down enough to cause hypothermia.  Another study suggests (yes there have been actual studies done of this) that the fans use up oxygen and create fatal levels of carbon dioxide.  My personal favorite is the notion that a fan can actually suffocate you by creating a vacuum around your face.  Clearly they have never stuck their heads out of a moving car.  Yes, this idea of "fan death" seems to be one of the most far-fetched isms i've posted thus far, but it's true.  If you don't trust me do a quick google search for yourself and find out about the "death by electric fan" phenomena that has swept Korea.

Death by fan

#154.  Koreans wear sashes for important events such as business openings, political campaigning or merely as a marketing tool for a new product.  Think of the sashes that Miss America wears only with Korean lettering and worn by men and women of all ages and for various reasons.  When I asked my coteacher about this she informed me that it is to make a person "look nice."  When she asked what we wear I told her that when we are attempting to look nice we wear a nice outfit paired with some classy jewelry.  She didn't understand.  She says this about the sash,"it helps us look to important."  Sure sure.

#155.  If you see a pregnant Korean woman drinking milk in mass quantities, she is most likely trying to lighten and brighten the skin of her unborn child.  Such a nifty trick.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Weekend in Pictures

My weekend in Pohang was loaded up on Christmas spirit.  With less than a week until Santa comes to visit, life is hectic to say the least.  Between the holiday parties, Christmas'fying the school and readying it for the arrival of our two new teachers, end of semester parties with the kiddos, figuring out plans for my Thailand beach vacation...there is lots to do.  I spent my much needed weekend away from the Kids College at various Christmas and birthday parties around Pohang.  Included were an ugly Christmas sweater party and a quadruple "Funny Hat" birthday bash for Justin, Will, Ryan and Tanya.  Fun times were had by all and I am pretty sure the pictures prove that for me.


A big group picture with our sweaters and rudolph noses

The rudolph nosed ladies

I love Christmas

My fabulous co-worker Heather

Cheesing it up with Teddy and Raechal

Rudolph noses make hugging awkward

My girl Virginia

With Will, my BSU buddy and birthday boy extrodinaire

When the waygooks go out, a guitar is always nearby

Tim and Molly

Teagan, Jitae and Leigh

With Miss Molly
With Miss Molly

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Just a few pictures from the past week.  Included are the pictures from the trip to the fossil museum with the babies and the cartoon themed birthday party for one of my favorite ladies of Pohang, Miss Nadia.  Enjoy!

Laughing about something with Hansu

Future husband and wife, Prince and Christina

With my little girl Christina

Picture with some of my babies during the field trip

Virginia, Zanel and Molly during the cartoon party

The birthday/Anime inspired/scary painted eyelid woman, Nadia

Two of my favorite ladies

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harley Davidson and Adoptive Korean Moms

Where to start.  I had quite the weekend that ranged from a movie night with friends to a solo adventure around and about Korea.  Here is a quick recap for those loyal readers out there.

Friday night was movie night.  A bunch of us decided that due to the fact that there were no other decent films out (and we all not so secretly wanted to see it) we would see the new Narnia movie.  It ended up being quite the kiddie film but the amazing features coupled with stellar graphics made it quite the Narnian experience.  Here is my review.  If you have the option to see it in 3D don't miss the opportunity.  The graphics and flying dragon alone will be well worth the hefty ticket price.  If it is just playing in the regular theaters wait for it on DVD.  It's a well crafted film but loses some appeal for the older audiences.

Saturday was spent in Daegu where a simple "Girls Day" turned into a seven hour solo adventure of finding  the elusive Harley Davidson store.  Why would I go on an adventure to find this particular shop?  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly the typical leather chaps, Harley Davidson wearing, biker babe.  However,  I am the daughter of a wanna be biker dude who settles for t-shirts from foreign countries.  His only request is that his tshirts have the name of the country they were purchased in.  Sounds simple enough right?  WRONG!  The only shops in Korea are in Seoul (a solid 5 hours away) and the one near Daegu (almost 2 hours).  Clearly this would mean that ordering it online would be the most logical option.  Apparently logic hasn't hit the Korean website yet because while they do have plenty of American tshirts there was not a single one to be found with the "Harley Davidson Korea" sentence he has been jonesing for.  Now after realizing that the little shop was not in our location it was decided that it was time for me to break apart from the group and go on my first solo outing in Korea.

My girls of the day

The ever elusive Daegu Harley Davidson store

Now anyone who knows me,or knows of me, knows that I am one hell of a navigation fuck up.  I end up in different states.  I get lost in my own hometown.  Directions just aren't my forte.  To keep this story as short as possible, just know that the ONE hour bus ride to get to the magical shop of Harley Davidson turned into a SEVEN hour long ordeal.  I went the wrong way on the subway (first time riding it alone), got on the wrong bus (also the first time riding a bus alone), found out it was too late for a bus back to civilization after finally finding the shop and the shirt and eventually got the last train back to Pohang (my first train ride.)

My ticket to Hyeung.  It was only 2,000 W so it should have been a fairly
short trip.  "Should have been" are the key words here.
Notice the newly painted nails!

Clearly it was an interesting day full of wasted time and aggravation but I did it.  All by myself.  Plus, Dad will finally get the shirt that he has been asking for during the past 10 months.  It'll all be worth it to see his eyes light up when I see him open up that present and have him proudly show off  his new Daegu Harley Davidson shirt.  I sure hope I got the size right.  Wouldn't that just be the icing on that crap cupcake of a day if it didn't fit him.


I woke up with um...women problems.  Unfortunately, I had to go to a lunch at the house of a student with my coteacher Heather.  We arrive to find a spread of delicious traditional Korean food complete with my favorite side dish, kimchi!  I end up having ridiculous cramps and ask the Mom (we named her Kelly due to our goal of using all of the names from the Saved By The Bell cast) to take me home at her convenience.  She motions the "why?" question and I motion at my stomach and she finally gets it.  She runs out of the room only to come back with an entire bag of pads (big sizeuh she says), female medicine and ANOTHER bag of pads (small sizeuh she says.)  She begins to put blankets on the couch to make me a bed so I can rest. She eventually gets the drift that I need to go home and she prepares a huge bag of sweet potatoes, muffins, medicine and enough pads for the entirety of the female population of Pohang.

Kelly has been deemed our Korean mother and she has filled the role quite nicely.  She feeds us.  No, she literally feeds us. Like snatches up food with chopsticks, says "AHH" and shovels it into our mouths.  She brings us breakfast to school.  She kisses us goodbye and tells us to have a good day.   Everyone always says that you find your Korean Mom when you get to Korea.  It only took me 10 months but I finally found her.  And while she is a good option for a Mom while i'm here, there is no replacing the real thing waiting for me in America.

Nope. There isn't anyone who could replace my 미국 엄마  (America Mommy)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This "Wordless Wednesday" is devoted to our fall open house that was performed a few weeks ago.  The drama for fall semester was the "Rabbit and the Turtle."  Yes, yes I know.  The proper title is "The Tortoise and the Hare" but the kids couldn't pronounce those words correctly and the rabbit is first in the title because he is the fastest.  This is Korean logic, not my own.  I hope you enjoy the addition of a monkey, squirrel, giraffe and bear to the play.  They really take this classic tale up a notch. 

Wendy and Sally prior to the play


Prince was getting annoyed at Matthew for not being able to
keep time.  Drums are hard when you're 5!

The rest of the kiddos with their xylophones, castanets,
tambourines and even a triangle.

The squirrel and a bear

A giraffe with attitude

Monkey, Bear and Giraffe

My poor little turtle

[Not pictured is Sunny, our rabbit for the day.  He was a little camera shy during the photo shoot]

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Favorite Christmas Songs

This post is dedicated to my love of Christmas songs.  Here are a few of my favorite songs (in no particular order) and the reason behind each.  Feel free to download them (legally of course) and help me celebrate Christmas as loud as humanly possible.

#1.  Christmas in Killarney- Bing Crosby
#2. White Christmas- Bing Crosby

It's Bing Crosby.  That's reason enough.

#3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer- Gene Aulty

Gene Aulty did the song for the original, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  This was one of my favorite movies as a child and remains one to this day.  Listening to this song reminds me of being at home with my family, making cookies and signing along.

#4.  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- Glen Campbell

I grew up in a very country-inspired household.  This particular song was on one of our holiday cds and it was always a Christmas favorite.

#5.  Pretty Paper- Willie Nelson

Another favorite for the Comers.  This song specifically reminds me of my Dad.  He loves Willie Nelson and some of my favorite Christmas memories are of him singing along to this song, amongst many others.  My Dad has such a great voice and listening to him sing, hum or whistle along to Christmas music always reminds me that Christmas can't be too far away.

#6.  All I Want for Christmas is You-Mariah Carey

For the past 5 years this song has been a favorite of mine.  Why only 5 years?  It is all due to one of my best collegiate friends, Joe Thomas.  I love this song (too much I know) and every Christmas since we became friends (back in 2004) I would sing this song (loudly and quite off key) to him in person, on the phone, on his voicemail and any other media I could think of.  It was our Christmas tradition and one that will be kept this year, even though I am 7,000 miles away.  Get ready Joe, this year I found the "extra festive" version.  It's gonna be special.

#7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree: Brenda Lee

Who doesn't think of this song at Christmas?!  Home Alone is one of my favorite Christmas movies and has a soundtrack that puts a big Christmas smile on even the scroogiest person out there.  This song always reminds me of Christmas and how thankful I am for my family.  Thank you Brenda Lee for rockin' around that Christmas tree.

#8. Wizards in Winter- Trans Siberian Orchestra

This song has specific meaning to me and my family.  We went to see them in concert last year and absolutely HATED the performance.  The music was amazing but then they added weird rock music, creepy story tellers in the middle and some chick that refused to stop headbanging throughout the entire show.  It didn't help that we were in nosebleed section and literally felt like we were going to fall out of our seats, plummet to our deaths and crush the fans who had created a makeshift mosh pit.  While I continue to love the music, I will forever remember my family and our inability to last through the entire show.

#9. Christmas in Dixie- Alabama

This is another song that reminds me of my Dad.  I still can't really listen to it without getting choked up.  Alabama has such a fantastic country feel to it and it reminds me of all of the songs we listened to growing up.  

For me, Christmas just isn't Christmas without music.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010


[It has been quite awhile since my last "Koreanism" post.  Here are a few i've been sitting on for just this occasion.  From barber poles to our favorite feminine feline, Hello Kitty, these Koreanisms should help give you yet another look into the quirkiness of Korea.]

#148.  In Korea some barber poles are a little bit more special than the others.  Yes, I am referring to the twirly red and blue pole that is notorious for letting the people know that it is a place that cuts hair or provides the male passerby with a proper shave.  Or is it?  In Korea, legend has it that a double barber pole indicates that the shop also has a massage parlor that  provides "extra service."  Wink wink.  Nudge nudge.

#149.  Reading Korean is MUCH easier than it looks.  There are only 24 letters (two fewer than the English alphabet) and is easy to pick up.  If you are itching to be able to read like yours truly, check out to get a speedy Korean education.  It is thanks to that little website that I now understand (for the most part) when my students are writing curse words on their desks, how to order food in restaurants and how to write words like "Indiana" to wow the family back at home.

#150. Red ink is extremely unlucky.  You are not supposed to use it to write a living person's name, since red is associated with death.  Red ink is used to record a deceased person's name in the fmaily register and on banners to ward off evil spirits.  Got it.  Red is evil. 

#151.  Korean women retain their maiden surname after they get married.  It is custom for the wife to not take her new husbands name since family surnames are reserved for only the people with blood ties.  Husbands and wives with different surnames.  Children with varying surnames from their parents.  Confusing as hell.  

#152.  Koreans (men and women) love their phone charms.  A phone charm (and yes I have my own as well) is an yet another excuse to search or make something that is bedazzled.  Hello Kitty.  Sparkles.  Hello Kitty with sparkles.  The sky is the limit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Somehow I still haven't gotten around to posting pictures from Halloween.  Enjoy the multiple Spidermen, pretty, pretty princesses and the miscellaneous penguin. 

Matthew just didn't understand the purpose of Halloween bags

My part time kinder 6 class with their Halloween masks

We had 2 Korean power rangers, 2 spidermen, batman,
princesses and a lone penguin

My babies

My pretty, pretty princesses

This is their favorite spot during movie time

Ryan, my pumpkin scraper helper

Batman loved gutting the pumpkin.  Spiderman hated it. 

Too messy for little Christina

In Korea, the kids trick or treat at local businesses...not homes. 

Edward LOVED this jack-o-lantern