Sunday, September 28, 2008

just the usual

This week has been an ordinary week. We didn't really do anything too exciting. The news in the classroom is that the kids kept bringing baby chicks to class...yes, real baby chickens. I have no clue why our students think it's ok to bring a baby chicken to class with them, but for some reason it was acceptable to everyone except Chris and myself. The director of our school even took some time out of his busy day to come up with a cardboard box for one of the students to keep her baby chicken in. Chris, had a class that actually thought they should play with their chicken in the classroom. After about 10 minutes of complete chaos he decided to go find a Korean teacher to help settle his class down. When he returned with a fellow teacher all the students were quietly seated and ready to learn, and there was no chicken in sight. Chris then proceeded to question the students as to what they had done with this sweet little animal. They all pointed to his desk where a book sat on top of his clear zipper binder (where we keep all class documents). He picked up the book, and there sat the poor little chicken all zipped up inside his binder. Oooo the joy of our Korean kidos!!!

This weekend was also low key. We opted to just hang out on our hall...we feel as though we're living in a dorm due to the fact that we live right down the hall from each other :) And then on Saturday evening we made a trip to the Lotte Market, a grocery store on the other side of town that has more options than our neighborhood store. We did our shopping and then separated for a while so I could get a little secret shopping of my own done. I bought a spring form pan because I'm going to attempt to make a cheesecake for Chris's birthday, this coming Friday!!! And I don't mean the little thin pie size cheesecake, I'm gonna attempt the real deal 3 inch thick New York Style Cheesecake. I know, it's probably crazy considering we're in Korea and a don't even have an electric mixer, but who knows maybe it will turn out great, cross your fingers for me, but Shhh....don't tell him, it's a secret. Let's hope that he doesn't decide to visit the blog this week.

The only other news is that I got my teeth cleaned today!!! It was an interesting experience. They covered my eyes up which was kinda creepy, but all in all it was the same as back home. I walked away with that same fresh and clean feeling, and I paid a lot less :)

Not much more to talk about for now.

Love you all and miss you greatly,

Am :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

bean sprouts and pig fat

It's Tuesday night here, and this was our short day. What that means is, today we went in at 3:30pm and got off at 8:00pm. We've grown to love Tuesdays and Thursdays almost as much as Fridays!!! Today was a fairly normal kind of day. I got up around 10 o'clock this morning and had a woman come to my apartment and do something to my gas line...who knows, but she said she would be back in 6 months :) After showering, I met Chris and we made our way to the market where we made a few new purchases. Everything is inexpensive in it's own time around here. Obviously, when things are in season you can get them cheap, but when they aren't you pay BIG!!! Evidently, apples are in season right now because we got a really good size bag for only 2,ooo won ( about $1.80). We also bought bean sprouts because in finally coming to the realization that Chris really doesn't like Korean food, he also discovered that he really does like bean sprouts over the weekend...go figure. I'll explain later!!! After the market, we went to Fasillo!!! This is the seafood, shabo shabo, and sushi buffet that I think I've mentioned before. We love this place, and it's conveniently located about three doors down from our apartment tower.

In other news, we had a nice relaxing weekend. We didn't do a lot. However, we made plans with some co-workers on Saturday evening. We made a trip to Monsu Stadium and park. This is a huge stadium and park that was built in order to host the 2002 World Cup soccer games. That being said, the park and stadium was really nice. It's huge. There's a rose garden and inside the stadium there's even a tradition Korean wedding chapel. After visiting the stadium we moved on to dinner, which is where the major epiphany took place. We thought that our good friend Willy, a native Korean and fellow teacher at ELC was planning to take us to this Korean Barbecue that we've been hearing about, but instead he took us to eat Sam Gibson. This is a popular Korean meal where you fry pork, mainly fat, right there at your table and wrap it up in lettuce, dress it with a mystery sauce and then, in my opinion... stomach it. If you're name is Chris, you don't even try to stomach it, you just say, "I can't eat this." And then proceed to find anything amongst the 20 odd side dishes that you might "be able to eat." What he came up with was bean sprouts! And boy did he eat some bean sprouts! I'm pretty sure the owner brought him three different refills of bean sprouts. You'd think he'd never want to look at another bean sprout in his life, but to my surprise, he wanted to buy bean sprouts at the market today! If anyone has any idea how to cook a bean sprout or possibly season a bean spout, any advice would be appreciated:) After our lovely bean sprout and pig fat dinner we moved on to the karaoke room. Karaoke is a popular social event in Korea, and so our native friend had to show us the ropes! Willy, who is very serious at work. He's a teacher and second in line to the school director. We'll just say he cut lose. He sang, he danced, he entertained!!!
Willy by day on the left and Willy by night on the right :)

The night was a blast, but we called it quits early because the bean sprouts were unfortunately not that filling! On our walk home we stopped at a Korean style fast food joint, where we enjoyed one of our favorites, deep fried octopus. It's so good. We then finished the night off at the bakery across from our apartment buillding. Chris had carrot cake which was amazing. I unfortunately had a not so good pick; it looked like a cookie but tasted like rubbery goo. On Sunday, out of frustration, I bought some ingredients and began baking at home. No more being hungry for us, we'll eat snickerdoodles everyday if we can't find food in Korea. That's our life over the last few days!!!
I'll try to find something else to write about other than food, I know it's becoming quite repetitive...sorry:)

Later Tater (ok maybe I'm just hungry)

Am :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

a long eventful weekend

Going back to work after a long weekend is always horrible, and it's no different in Korea. We took a short trip to Busan and visited the Huyandae Beach over the weekend with some friends. We spent a day at the beach, and even though we didn't venture into the water it was such a beautiful and calming atmosphere that we enjoyed our time there regardless. We also got to wittness a Korean style wedding on the beach, which was kinda neat. While in Busan we also met some new friends that live really close to us!!!

We ate KFC for the first time in Korea and though it was a little spicy it reminded us of the good ole SOUTH!!! We also had a nice dinner at a quaint little Turkish restaurant in the city, which ended up being an interesting experience. As we walked through the doors we walked into what seemed like a different country. We heard more languages than we could possibly count or recognize. At our table alone there were: two Russians , two Persian Canadians, two Americans (yours truly), and a Korean. That's four different languages all conversing at one table, not to mention the Turkish waitress who was doing her best to communicate in broken Korean! WOW, talking about cultural collision!!! The dinner and company was fabulous. The other adventures of Busan included a lesson on the Korean subway system and bartering with the street salesmen for a Louis Vouiton purse; they have great knock offs here!!! The trip to Busan was a huge success and we can't wait to go back again.
The weekend didn't end with the Busan trip. There was a foreigners festival held at Ulsan University so that all the foreigners had something to do over the long weekend. We made our way up to the university and enjoyed a number of events at the festival. We also had a free Korean cafeteria style meal, which was descent :) But our favorite part of the festival was the song and dance competition. Everyone who competed in the competition sang in Korean and the MC spoke Korean the entire time, which confused us a little bit. Of course, we being Americans think everything should always be done in English!!! Anyway, the contest was so funny. The guys would go crazy and the girls had a ridiculous amount of energy (and this is coming from me). For such a reserved culture, they really know how to let lose and entertain. The festival ended in a riot because there were a number of prizes that were to be given away by drawing, and a group of people didn't like the way the MC was conducting the drawing. I'll admit it was a little shaddy, only Vietnamese and Philipino names were being called and every now and then the MC would look at a name and then put it back. I seriously doubt he really cared who won the mass packages of Ramen noodles or the area fans that were being given away, but nevertheless, people became angry. So, then everyone in the building for Sri Lanka got up and began shouting and booing for a while, and when nothing changed they all left. This was so intersting because we never think of racism occuring between the different Asain races, but it is in fact very common around here. No one ended up fighting, that we know of at least. But once again, we were very entertained.
Tuesday, we decided that we would splurge and go to this seafood and sushi buffett that we have been hearing people talk about. It was absolutely amazing. All you can eat seafood and sushi is like a dream come true for Chris and myself. We literally ate until we could not eat any longer, and then we finished the night out at a singing room. This is a tiny little karaoke room that you can go in and sing until you can not sing any longer. Ater about an hour in the hot little room, we decided that seafood buffett and karaoke room are not two events that work well together.
The weekend was wonderful. We greatly enjoyed the time off, sightseeing and time to just chill a little and take it all in. Back to work now, and it's almost the weekend again....yahoooo!!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our 1st Chuseok

Chuseok, this is the Korean holiday that's most like our Thanksgiving, or that's what we've been told. Either way, it's the most important holiday in Korean culture, which means we get a long weekend! Of course, Chris and I hear Thanksgiving and we think this means an awesome meal; come on, don't tell me food doesn't come to mind when you think Thanksgiving. So, we've been anticipating an invite from one of our closer Korean friends to a traditional Chuseok gathering. That is, until we used the handy dandy, world wide web and googled images of a Chuseok meal, and this is what we found.

YEAH, I KNOW...this is nothing like Thanksgiving!!!We decided that we were glad our friends had not extended a hospitable invite to the foreigners, and we went on and made our own Chuseok plans just in case we did get a random last minute invitation. Instead, we are going to make a trip to Busan's famous Hyundae Beach (the best beach in Korea) with some other not-so-Chuseok kind of foreigner friends :) Even though we're not doing the traditional Chuseok, we're extremely excited about our long weekend, which we just found out includes paid days off for both Monday and Tuesday (we were only expecting Monday off)!!!

Happy or Merry Chuseok Everyone!!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A week of changes

Well... this week has been a week of changes. We were at school last week when the director of our school approached us to sit down for a talk. In Korea, they don't really discuss a lot with us foreign teachers so we were like OK. He proceeded to tell us that we were being moved to a different school with ELC that's about 10 minutes away. At first, we freaked out!!! We didn't want to move to a different school!!! We had just begun to get settled in this one. Anyway, we went and talked to the director at the new school. He was actually the person who we had communicated with and been hired by before ever leaving the US. He assured us that everything would be fine and that we would love his school. He was right!!! We completed our first week at the new school and so did everyone else. It is a brand new school with state of the art equipment and resources. It has an amazing view of the mountains, and we have better hours. Chris and I have also been put in charge of a class called the "Genius". We are the only two teachers that this class has. So, we have complete control of how we want there class to work. We're really excited about all the changes even though we were reluctant about everything in the beginning
Over the weekend, we made a trip to Chinae with some friends (the old downtown of Ulsan). The area was very colorful...even more than the typical Asian scene!!! We actually ended up eating Chinese, and it was ok but def not our favorite. Chris found a Disney character, Daphne Duck and thought he had to have a picture for some reason. After dinner we found ourselves in a board game hall. This is a place you go and they have hundreds of boardgames. They give you a noisy hammer and every time you play a game and someone loses you hit them on the head with the hammer. YES, I know what you are thinking CHEESY!!! You are right, we've decided that the Koreans have no shame, and no understanding of looking like an idiot.
Not a lot more going on here. O...but I did get a haircut!!! Well, not really, I just got bangs. Tell me what you think....I haven't really been able to decide if I like em or not. And Chris is absolutely no help!!! Be honest...bangs or no bangs?

~AM :)