Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beach Day!!!

Anticipation has been driving us crazy so we finally made a trip to the beach!!! The beach was much like beaches in the US. There were lots of people, and there were vendors set up on the beach renting umbrellas and beach chairs. There were also places where you could rent a jet ski or ride on a banana boat. However, you are always aware that aren't in the US because the Koreans go into the water in tee shirts or many of them are even fully clothed. We decided to go in our swimsuits because we didn't have a change of clothes, but you do fill much more conscience of your near nudity when you're the only ones without clothes. We were not prepared at all for a beach day because Chris and I both only brought one towel each and neither of us wanted to take the towels that we use everyday down to the beach to get all sandy. So we just got in the water and enjoyed the waves instead of laying on the beach. The landscape surrounding the water is beautiful. There are mountains in the distance come right up to the water in places. After we finished we had a little difficulty finding a place to clean up. We searched for showers or at least a place to wash our feet off, but there was nothing in sight except for what appeared to be a small baby pool. We're still not sure exactly what the mini pool was intended for, but we used it to wash our feet and the bottom half of our bodies! Later, we discovered that in Korea the showers are provided across the rode from the beach by different businesses in hopes that they might attract you into their store or restaurant. After cleaning up a little we looked around for seafood, but because of our inexperience in ordering food in Korean, we opted for chicken wings as a safe bet. Later, we visited a small corner bakery shop where we had dessert. There are awesome little bakeries all over the place. They've definitely become our favorite indulgence in Korea! It was a great day at the beach!!!

Sorry we only took one picture, we'll try to do better next time.

~Am :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008


This past week was our first week of teaching in South Korea. By Friday, I think we were getting the hang of things in the classroom. Our job at the English academy is to teach the children the correct pronunciation of the English language. Most of the students already know the grammatical rules and spelling of the language, but it's our job to teach them how to use what they already know in order to competently speak the English language. The students have Korean teachers who have studied English since they were young children, but pronunciation is one of those things that even a well educated Korean will always find difficult. This is why they hire us!!! They want the students to regularly hear a true native English speaker in hopes that they will pick up on the correct ways to speak the language.

I have 8 different 33 minute classes everyday, and then the next day I have a different set of 8 classes. All together, I have about 200 different students in the classroom! Chris has fewer classes than me, but he has a couple of "project classes." Project classes are just blocks of time when you don't have a class where you do different projects to help the administration at the school. We go in around 2 pm, but the first bell doesn't ring until 2:15. We have 3 minutes between classes and 10 minutes between some classes. We also get a 15 minute break where the school provides a lunch, which is more like a snack for us :)

The kids are great. They can be a handful at times, but they never allow us to get bored. Sometimes they play tricks on us just because they can. Chris was entertaining some of his students this past week by attempting to speak Korean only to find out later that the kids were really teaching him curse words and making him repeat them. He thought the kids loved him as they smiled and giggled each time he attempted their language. Instead, Chris was really cursing at his students which was very amusing to the students!

That's about it for now, until next time.

Am :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Adventure begins...

In case you're wondering, yes...we did find the Ethernet cord and no...we did not have Internet after the long and drawn out search. I know what you're thinking, "You left the states a week ago, and the adventure is beginning now???" Well, this
past week is what Chris and I have called "survival week," in which we spent the bulk of our time figuring out the basic necessities of life. We found grocery stores and food that our bodies would not reject. We located a place where we could get Internet access since we DO NOT have it in our apartments yet. We've figured out how to dispose of trash, which is a completely different system. Let me tell you, it was a difficult and trying week, but finally it's over. We have the basics down!!!

Having what we thought to be the hardest part behind us. We decided that on Sunday afternoon we would go out into a different part of the city and see what it had to offer. A couple of people from our school told us what bus to take in order to get to the area that we wanted to go to, and so, we jumped on a bus and headed out to Samsun Dong. This is the main downtown area in Ulsan. We rode the bus until we got to an area that appeared to be a happening place and then we got off. We ended up a
t a shopping center called the Lotte Department Stores. As we made our way to each of the different floors, we found that there are a number of different things at a department store in Korea. They had everything from fresh produce to household appliances. We did not do much shopping, but it was very tempting because everyone dresses so fashionable around here. However, on the bottom floor of the department store there was a grocery store and food court. The grocery store had a larger selection of foreign items than the grocery store near the apartments; so, we splurged a little and bought pancake batter!!! Next,we decided against eating dinner at Outback, and opted for something a little more authentic, but yes, Ulsan has an Outback just like the one back home (just a lot more expensive because it's foreign). We ended up eating at a place called Marchie where you get a card at the door and walk around picking anything from breakfast foods to cappuccino or desserts. Each station that you get something from stamps your card, after you finish your dinner you take your card back to the front and pay for whatever stamps you received. Dinner was great!!!
There is also a large farris wheel on the top of the department store that we thought about riding, but we decided we would leave that for another day. Instead we just walked through the streets a little more. We found a few more familiar places like a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and of course, Starbucks. By the time we had walked around it was getting dark. Even though we were nervous about navigating back to the area that we're most familiar; we decided it was time. We made our way to a bus stop, and we sat there for about an hour before we figured out that the bus we were waiting on was not coming to the stop we were at. We then got some help from a man who spoke very little broken English. He pointed us in the direction of another bus stop, where we spent maybe 2 minutes before our bus arrived. The bus ride was very long. We probably took the most illogical route home possible, but we made it!!!

That, my friends was our 1st adventure out in the city!! Everyday here in South Korea is a new adventure for us. Like a child, things have become new and exciting and at times even a little scary.

Lots of Love,

am :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

everyday obstacles

Well, we're here!!! We finally made it. The plane rides were excruciating, and we were constantly rushing so that we didn't miss our flights. Everything worked out just fine. We arrived in Ulsan around 10pm on Monday night, so I thought I would get plenty of sleep and easily adjust to the drastic change in time. Boy was I wrong!!! The first night I didn't get any sleep at all. I'm still waking up very early every morning, but I'm sleeping a little more every night!!!

The apartment complex that we live in is very nice. Anytime we mention the name of the building they think that we are very wealthy. It's a high rise apartment in a great location. The view is amazing, and it's equipped with the latest technology. There's a security camera that turns on when someone rings my doorbell. I can see the person standing at my door while sitting on my couch in the living room. Also, there's a mini flat screen in the kitchen, and my faucet at the kitchen sink comes on when you brush your foot over a sensor. The only issue now is figuring out how to work everything since the buttons and directions are all in Korean:) Either way, I'm very thankful because my place is so much nicer than I had ever expected.

The school we are working at is nice. There are lots of people who speak English, which we are learning to appreciate more and more. We like the other teachers (but they do seem to have a small case of apartment envy, everyone else has older apartments).

The language barrier here makes everything a challenge. A simple task like going to the grocery store can take a lot of time and money if you don't know what you are doing...WE DON'T!!!! We search and search for certain items and never seem to find them. Like wheat bread for instance, it's nearly impossible to find. We've bought everything but wheat bread in this attempt. Finally, just yesterday we found a bakery that had one small loaf of wheat bread. We thought we had found gold!!! Another item that we have yet to find is an Ethernet cord, never even thought of bringing one of the 4 I have at home!!! We spent probably 2.5 hours yesterday looking for a cord just to see if we might have Internet. The first store was closed, and the second didn't what we needed. The man at this store was gracious enough to write down the name of the store that we should look for and point us in that direction. However, when we got there and found a young man who did speak a little English, he told us they did not have one, but he too pointed us to another store. Everyone here wants to help us; so, this guy wrote "Ethernet cord" in Korean....or I guess I should say, we think that's what he wrote. Anyway, the same thing happened over and over again until we finally came upon a store in which we think we saw what we were looking for hanging on the back wall!!! Unfortunately this was only through the window because they too were closed :) The journey continues....

God is speaking mounds to me with each obstacle and each victory, even if it is just wheat bread!!! Even as I struggle to accomplish the small things in life, I'm learning more and more each day and hopefully this will make me a stronger and more complete individual!!!

James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Keep the emails coming, and I'll keep trying to find that cord so maybe I can post a little more frequently!!!


Am :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

hellos, goodbyes, chaos, customers, and most importanly a baby!!!

I feel as though I'm falling behind with this thing already after checking out a few of my friends blogs. Maybe I just have very ambitious friends who are really great at keeping up with this blogging thing :) Yeah, that makes me feel a little better.

In preparation for the events to come I am trying to focus on visiting with as many people as I possibly can, packing and working lots of hours . All in all, I'm becoming exhausted both physically and emotionally. It just seems that my life is full of so many obligations until the moment I step foot on the plane. It's not that I don't want to do all the things that I've committed to, it's just that I have a tendency to overwhelm myself by taking on too many things at one time.

As of this weekend I've said some goodbyes to a few friends and my 3 year old nephew Cullen, who may just be the hardest for me to leave. He's just so young and he grows so fast. I know the next time I see him in person he will have changed so much.

On the flip side, I got to welcome a new baby into the world over the weekend!!! Lauren Johnson, a best friend of mine since before I can even remember gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Alyvia Layne Johnson!!! Alyvia weighed 8 pounds and 13 ounces and she was 21 and 1/4 inches long. She is absolutely precious. Congrats La, I'm so proud of you!!! You're gonna be the greatest MOM ever!!!

As for any other news, there's not alot. I'm extremely sore because I went to the lake with my dad and brother yesterday. They are both master skiers, but because I'm not they love to get me on the tube just to see how long it will take to throw me off. I couldn't have been on the thing anytime, but boy am I feeling the burn in my arms today.

So long until there's more to write about.

~Am :)