Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to move in Korea

We just moved out of our apartment this morning, and although we were sad to say good-bye to our first home, we rather enjoyed watching the Korean movers do their thing.

Over the past week, we spent more than 20 hours going through our things, throwing things away, deciding what to put in our suitcases and what to send on. It was torturous, and I had many moments of near despair that were narrowly avoided due to the help of Girl Scout cookies. I was certain the movers would take forever to move our precious belongings the next day, but I was wrong. The movers spent no more than two hours boxing everything, taping it up, making an inventory sheet, and sending it out the window. Really! No, no elevator or stairs. The window. Check it out.

The movers sent a ladder up to our fifth floor apartment. Here was the truck at the bottom. See Chin-Hwa's guitar? It's like Where's Waldo, but with more brown packing paper and more Koreans.

This mover was out on the precarious platform. He had no safety equipment and seemed to be completely at ease.

The platform had no barricades or anything! An American moving company would be facing a lawsuit. This Korean moving company just got their job done way faster. When the platform was full, he would honk a horn to signal to the truck driver to take down the ladder.

Teamwork in action. Maybe it wouldn't have taken us so long to pack if we had had eight friends, yes?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fear the meme!

Have an unruly child? Need a little extra help? Read on!

Most Korean children have at least one thing in common. What, you might ask? They are adorable? Although that's true 99% of the time, I can't confirm it to be 100%, so that's more a theory, albeit a very good theory. This one common trait is a fact:

Korean children fear the MEME (say "mehm meh"). DUN DUN DUUUUUUNNNNN

***A note: The writing on the meme translates roughly to, "I do this for love." So the meme can also be considered a stick-y guilt tripper. It's so versatile!***

***Additional note: Although the meme appears to have lost its fearsome hold on Chin-Hwa in the above picture, he still screams out "MEME!!!" at night while shaking his fist in fury. It's really quite irritating.***

What is this mysterious fear monger? It appears to be but a mere stick. What's so scary about a stick? Well, apparently you've never been poked in the eye by an errant twig. Or tripped by a log. Or tried to cross a river over a fallen tree. Or seen a tornado throw sticks around willy nilly.

The meme is like a switch. Older Korean people use the meme on naughty children. They might use it to swat the wrist, or the behind, or the back of the legs. . . you get the idea. Chin-Hwa's mom is a fan of saying, "You want the meme?" to her adult children in order to intimidate them during card games. (It works!) Even the word strikes fear into countless childrens' eyes . . . . mehhh mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Korean Royalty

Well, it has finally happened. I have done one of the most stereotypically white things I could do in Korea, short of actually buying this outfit. But don't put that past me. . . I've still got some time here.

We wanted a Korean wedding photo, but we couldn't do it due to my short hair. (wah wahhh) So we settled for being pictured as Korean Royalty. I am completely satisfied with that compromise. Sure, lots of people get married, but how many become kings and queens? Huh? It's rare. Jealous much?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just a couple of tourists

Today Chin-Hwa and I were lucky enough to have a whole day to explore Seoul. It's crazy that we don't do it that often, and I thought we would be able to site see every weekend if we so desired, seeing as we live about an hour's train ride away, but once you live somewhere, one might feel less incentive to look like a tourist.

Not this girl. I went to the cable cars weekly in San Francisco, camera in hand. I posed with the hippies in Berkeley on numerous occasions and would have worn a fanny pack had I been better prepared. I loved Oakland's Lake Merritt and I thought about buying the t-shirt. I am committed to looking like a tourist whenever possible, and today, Chin-Hwa was nice enough to humor me. Here are a few pictures from our visit to Gyeongbok Palace, a large 14th century palace in the middle of Seoul:
Chin-Hwa and I posing as the Korean husband and wife.
Me with one of the "authentic" palace guards. I tried to get him to strike a pose or at least crack a smile (I'm so stereotypical) but no dice. His facial hair was painted on in places.
Chin-Hwa in front of a palace gate. Doesn't he look thrilled?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My purchasing bucket list

Time is running out here in Korea, and it's time for me to make my last minute purchases in this land of milk and honey!

Things I have to buy before I leave Korea:

1. One thousand stationary pieces that look hilarious. Like this:
2. Enough banana flavored milk to make me sick of it so I won't miss it in the U.S.
3. Matching underwear set for Chin-Hwa and I. Don't worry, I won't post pictures.
4. Cheesy souvenirs for the family. . . I mean, expensive souvenirs for the family! Haha, yes!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Last Day

Well, it is hard to believe, but today was my last day teaching. It may seem surprising to all of you millions of readers, but I actually knew it was coming since the fall. My boss had decided to close her school and waited until January to make the announcement. Today made it official.

Although I am sad to say good-bye to the kids, I am not very sad to be done teaching. Teaching is hard work! And I won't miss having to explain things like why "Did" is past tense but "eat" is not in the following sentence, "Did you eat your meat?" I will also not miss teaching prepositions. They are second nature to most English speakers, but if you really think about it, why do we say, "I go pee in the toilet" instead of "I go pee on the toilet"? ***There is an added difficulty when you take into account that almost all of my male students did pee both on and in the toilet.*** Explain yourself. And if I have to spell "bought" one more time, I will get upset. And not in a cute, oh she's so easy to ignore, type way.

It was strange to say good-bye to my students because I seemed to take it a lot more seriously than they did. I looked at them deeply and said such yearbook-y things like, "Keep it up!" or "I'll miss you!" They just looked at me and said, "OK."

We spent the day eating donuts and playing games, and it was quite enjoyable. Here are some pictures:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who's in charge of proofreading around these parts?

This was spotted in a cafe in Seoul. It was painted onto the wall of the entrance.

I demand an explanation, at least after I stop laughing. Who thought of this? The sad thing is that "panties" is the same word in Korean, so there's really no excuse. And what kind of creature is that anyways?