Wednesday, December 30, 2009

High School

I used to think high school was really, really hard. My Freshman year, Mrs. Coyle told us we had to write a five paragraph essay, I thought, "Oh, what agony! Who could ever write a paper that length?" I moaned; I kicked my feet; I complained constantly; I completed it. Looking back, I think this experience was why I later had to write multiple 20 page papers and an eventual thesis (which, I might add, can be checked out of the Graduate Theological Union's library for no cost for all of you people who are salivating over a chance to adore my writing for 80 and some odd pages...the line forms behind...well, me. Oh, you've read it? Wow! Wasn't it great?)

My point here is not to brag about my accomplishments, (but isn't it funny how I still managed to sneak them in there? That's a little trick I've picked up.) but to compare my high school experience with those I have noticed here in Korea.

High school is intense. Nothing like High School Musical, which is surprising seeing as HSM is so similar to U.S. high schools... Korean high school students go to school early in the morning, and they stay until 9 or 10 p.m. They go to school two Saturdays of every month. Many of them study English, Japanese, and Chinese. Also, can you imagine studying Korean history?! I think U.S. history is hard enough, and that's only a few centuries! Korean history goes way back. Imagine learning about a few thousand years of history. And then retaining it.

In their senior year, all high school students have to take a college entrance exam that is epic in every sense of the word. They study for months. Their score decides where they can go to college, which then influences where they can get a job. Wow. That's a lot of pressure.

So whenever your loved ones complain about how much homework they have, tell them the story of the Korean teenagers who have to dedicate their lives to school. I like to bring it up to David every time we talk. I figure it helps make him culturally aware, while also sending a subtle and silent clue that he should stop complaining. (He never reads this blog so I think I can be frank. But now Mom's going to show it to him. Shoot.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Birthday cake

I told Chin-Hwa all I wanted for my birthday was a birthday cake. I said not to bother with silly Christmas gifts--birthday. Focus on the birthday.

I then gave him a recipe that was "easy" because it started with a cake mix. Then I told him he had to make four layers, put frosting between each layer, and top it with a chocolate "ganache." He was intimidated at first, but we ended up with a lovely result. The cake was rich, creamy, and delicious. Chin-Hwa even put birthday candles on top. He tried to make a 2 and a 6, but its up for interpretation...

It is hard to be away for Christmas, but I guess this will be my year to see if they celebrate Christmas outside of Omaha. At least I know I will be well fed!

When I get emotional about being away, there is one YouTube video that can cheer me up:



Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The other day I told Chin-Hwa that I'd been sick with a cough for over a week. He told me that sicknesses will stick around longer now that I'm "getting old."

Wait. I'm old now? What? I'm the picture of youth! I still wear jeans to work occasionally! I'm still trying to figure out how to shave my legs! I use Facebook. I can write an email and even send it successfully. I don't think I'm old; I'm just tall for my age.

But Chin-Hwa is not alone in his statement. Kids at work love to guess my age. Their favorite little game is to guess I'm a million just to see my reaction. After I congratulate them for knowing a number that is so huge ("Wow! You know the word for million!") I make a disapproving face. They love it and giggle every time. The sad thing is that when I tell them how old I really am, they seem to gasp in fright. "I've never met someone so old, Miss Jackie! My mom is younger than you!" Thanks, kids. Thanks.

I have been forgetful lately...perhaps it is early onset age-related brain farts! And it does take me a long time to get started in the morning without my parents and my aunts and uncles are this way. (Anyone who's been at Ponca in the mornings could tell you this.) Maybe my love of High School Musical isn't enough to cut it. Maybe I'm a fogey. I didn't even try to dress up for Halloween this year. And I have been known to make disparaging remarks regarding "teenage fashions." I don't own Ugz and I'm not even sure how to spell the word! No young'un could get away with such things. The good news here is that I can start keeping a stash of hard candies in my bag and hand them to kids as I see fit. And I can talk about my old uphill walks to school. This might not be so bad.

I guess I'd better go tell Nickie she's getting old, too. Twins for life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


You probably think ramen noodles are fodder for poor college students and unhealthy teenagers. Me, too, friends. However, in Korea, they've jazzed up Ramen, even to the point where Chin-Hwa and I actually went out to eat it. I know, it sounds crazy, but it was still one of the cheapest meals we could get at 5000 won per serving, which is about $4.25.

When we got to the restaurant, I couldn't help but smirk. I thought, "Hello, Korea? Yeah, didn't anyone tell you that ramen is not fancy? No. Not fancy. Put those large fancy bowls away. Hide the frills. Chopsticks? Are you serious? Ramen cannot be dressed up and passed as actual food." I felt like I was in on something and that the restaurant would have no choice but to soon acknowledge that I was right and they were wrong. That's how things usually go, right?

For one of the first times ever (No, really. I'm usually right. Ask Chin-Hwa.), I was wrong. The ramen was well cooked, served with actual vegetables, not the dehydrated bits that come in ramen packets in the U.S., and the meal was filling. I almost didn't mind being wrong. Almost. For proof, here are some pictures. I've also included some other pictures you might enjoy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

We don't live in filth

Now that we have a camera, I wanted to share some pictures of the apartment. Click on the link below to see the pictures, and please forgive me for taking so long!

Now you can go about your lives at ease, knowing we don't live in filth.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


We put up the Christmas tree!

I am in holiday bliss.

Chin-Hwa is humoring me, as any self-respecting holiday hater would. He even took a picture by the tree to commemorate our first Christmas together:

Yep. Still in love after 5 months.

We bought the tree at a small Korean toy shop. The lights are so hot they feel like they cannot be approved by any sort of fire code, but they sure look beautiful. The tree is so fake it's laughable. The trunk is merely another pine branch that is straight and fastened to the base. But what isn't fake is my holiday joy. Yes. I am that cheesy.

We also got a digital camera so we could join this millennium. Look for more pictures to come soon!