Monday, September 28, 2009

A Hike

Yesterday I went on a hike on Mount Soyosan. ("-san" means mountain in Korean. I do not know what "Soyo" means, so let's just assume it is "Mount of Soyo" and call it a day.) I went with Candice and Anna, two women I've met here. Although Candice assured us that the whole mountain was an "easy" hike, we elected to stay on the cement path and only go up a little bit. I get nervous when I'm too high up mountains, mostly because I'm not used to them...

We began our climb and passed many people in various states of hiking gear. We even saw one woman wearing three inch heels, which seemed so impractical I had to stop from pointing. I was wearing thin tennis shoes myself, so I didn't have much room to talk.

Eventually, we came to many flights of stairs. We took them, and on the top was a Buddhist temple. The temple was beautiful--it had lots of candles and the ceiling was lined with paper lotus flowers. There was also a golden Buddha at the front of the temple and a few people inside praying. It was breathtaking, and only one of a few Buddhist temples I've seen in my life.

I'm looking forward to going further up the mountain but this was a lovely way to start off. Here is a picture of the mountain that I found online. My digital camera from 2000 finally died, so I'm waiting to buy a new one so I can take my own pictures to share.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some quick facts...

1. Movie theaters in Korea have assigned seats.
2. When you press the door close button in an elevator in Korea, the door closes. Right away. Koreans do not have time to waste in elevators apparently.
3. Army commissaries (grocery stores) do not have tax, but they do have something called a surcharge, which seems to function just like a tax.
4. Dunkin' Donuts is hip here. People have business meetings and dates there. I'm enjoying having a Dunkin' Donuts that is closer than the one in St. Joe's, MO.

I start my job tomorrow! I'll be teaching English to kids who are in kindergarten to fifth grade. It should be interesting to say the least!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Korean Kindergardeners

Yesterday I had a chance to sit in on an English class for Korean kids. I've been thinking about taking a job at an English academy so I wanted a chance to see how it was done. The kids were adorable, but scared to death of me.

First off, they all chose English names for their English classes, which reminded me of my high school French days. (I was Jacqueline, so not too exciting, but still. There was the girl who chose to be known as Etienne and learned half way through the year that it was a boy's name) The first class had two little girls, Rosie and Sunny, who giggled every time I talked to them. When I showed them where I was from on the map, Rosie whispered into Sunny's ear and they both laughed... apparently they have heard talk of the Midwest.

One of the boys in the class was named David. I told him that my brother's name was David and they all thought that was hilarious. I mean, who in their right minds would name a child David?!Then, a boy named Max met me and pulled a Simpsons book out of his bag. He, too, started cracking up about this (maybe I have three fingers?). Max also talked about his new Lego set. He built a remote control car out of Legos. Somethings really have gotten high tech.

Overall, the day proved to be an interesting entry into childlike humor and how one teaches English. I'm leaning towards taking the job, mostly so I can see what was so darn funny!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One month and counting

Well, I have been here for one whole month already. Wow! I have had some lows and some highs. Here are a few of them as I reflect back:
1. Not being able to order at restaurants. Wah wahhhhhhh
2. Calling Chin-Hwa crying because I couldn't figure out how to turn on the stove.
3. As a general rule, Army administrative red tape is always silly.

1. Arriving at the airport to Chin-Hwa.
2. Slowly learning how to read Hangul.
3. Making our apartment feel like home.
4. Water park! Speedos! Babies in swimming outfits!
5. Indian food in Hyehwa, a college neighborhood near where we live. Although I like Korean food a lot, it was nice to have a change of pace.

Here's to more adventures! Oh, and the start of the new Gossip Girl season and ANTM cycle...some things never change.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Being Blonde in Korea

One comment I heard many times in the days leading up to my departure date for Korea was that the Korean children might stare and want to touch my hair. People who had never even been to Asia were assuring me that it would happen and told me to be prepared.

While I have attracted many stares (being ridiculously good looking is hard) it wasn't until Saturday night that I had my first hair touch. Chin-Hwa's cousin Ji-Bin, a lively four-year-old girl, was the first to ask to touch my hair. Actually, she didn't ask and actually, she really just put her hands in it and moved them all around so I looked like I was stuck in a windstorm. She also laughed uproariously. Then, she caught a glimpse of my Hello Kitty phone bauble and asked me for it. I had no idea what she said so I put the phone away, unaware. She then started bawling and ran to her mom. Chin-Hwa translated her request and asked that I give her the Hello Kitty. Since I am mature enough to give things to others, I only whimpered for a short while before releasing the toy. Once she had it we were best friends again. Four-year-olds are fickle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Husker love

Friends. Every Korean who is fashionable has a Major League Baseball cap (there are more Oakland A's hats here than there were in Oakland) and at least one or two t-shirts with English writing on them. Although this is trendy, I'm not so sure that every one who is wearing an English shirt knows what the shirt says. For example, I have seen a man wearing a shirt that says "New York Mental Institution" on it with an inmate number on the back. Do you think he really knew what that meant?

Anyhoo, the other day I was eating at a restaurant that was on the second floor of a building and next to a window. I was people watching when I noticed that one man was wearing a Nebraska Huskers football shirt. I started waving frantically and pointed to my shirt, as if to say, "Dude! I'm with you! Go Huskers!" despite the fact that I was not wearing a Huskers tshirt of my own. He did not/chose not to understand me and walked away shaking his head.