Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Letter to Fans of Jackie's Blog.

Dear Friends and Family,

On this lovely, "Jackie's Birthday"-Day, I, Chin-Hwa (her loving, smart, articulate, suave, handsome, athletic.... I could go on... hubby), have decided to write as a privileged guest blogger. And no, I did not have to ask Jackie's permission in order to write this. I simply snooped around the internet until I could find a way to hack into my wife's blogger account. If you truly love somebody, you will find a way to pry your way into EVERY crevice of your loved one's private life. Otherwise, you're just not trying.

Anyway, I am "ghost-blogging" today because it is my lovelypants' birthday (we have lots of cutesy-wootsy monikers for each other, perhaps on a later blog post....). At first, I came on this blog to do what I always love to do: brag about myself. I wanted to write how I am so interesting, mysterious, intriguing, and most of all.... modest. But alas, faithful blog readers, I will have control the urge to reveal how great I am. Instead, I guess I will use this time to write how great Jackie is. If you get bored while reading the rest of this, I can't say that I blame you.

First, all the goodies about my honeybuns is already known. She's smart, funny, beautiful, helpful, witty, and a semi-competent card player (what more could a husband ask for?). However, the thing that I like most about her is that she really is not afraid to embarrass herself. And she has had PLENTY of opportunities to blunder, and then try to act smooth ("What? Me? Stumble? Never!"). Farting in public. Butchering the Korean language in front of my relatives. Getting completely lost... in Omaha. And being honest about it... Priceless.

So please. All you friends and family reading this blog (and not posting comments, shame on you). Don't be modest. Write something. I won't judge. We all can't be Shakespeare or Alice Walker. Write ANYTHING. You can write pleasant niceties such as, "Happy Birthday," or, "We love you." But lets share the goodies. Let's share stories. Let's share stories such as the one where a 5 year-old Jackie poops into a toilet... you know... the one's ON DISPLAY in a hardware store. Let's share and really show Jackie how much you care, and how much we love Jackie. Because nothing says, "Love," like minor humiliation.

With love (and a little schaudenfreude),
Chin-Hwa (her husband who has never been embarrassed in his life, but is about to get in to DEEP trouble after his honeymuffins finds out about this post).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Birthday!

Christmas Birthday, or Merry Birthday if you prefer, has always been my favorite holiday for seemingly obvious reasons. Family + cookies + birthday cake = ridiculously awesome. This year is no exception, but Christmas Birthday does take on a bit of a different flavor when I'm away from home. There is something about Omaha during the holidays that is nothing short of magical, and until last year, I had never been away.

I sit and try to tell myself this will be my only chance to have a quiet Christmas, but I miss having Aunt Kathy steal my Christmas gift or Aunt Karen making up a mix drink to show off her new martini shaker. I miss watching the family try to play catchphrase (and fail, unless they are on my team, in which case they win!). I miss Grandma Joan yelling at us to get out of the kitchen. I miss having a birthday cake in the middle of the Christmas spread. Or making cookies with Samantha, only to find that we are out of sugar. So even though I am a little early, for everyone who is at home this Christmas Birthday, know that I miss you! And try to lay off the eggnog, no?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa was saved on this day in Korea

I have done nothing but further my students' idea that all holidays celebrated in the U.S. are centered around candy. I decided to get a little Catholic on them and teach them about St. Nicholas Day, mostly so I could put candy in their shoes. (I knew that would creep them out, and sure enough, some of them said they thought it was gross to put candy in dirty shoes, (the candy was wrapped and put in a plastic bag and this complaint remained) but I still saw them eating it before they left...) I was also able to squeeze in the fact that only good students would get a gift from St. Nicholas, and this made them more attentive than usual.

WARNING: The remaining section of this blog post contains some big kid materials which may not be suited to younger readers!!! Duly noted?

Typically, I would explain St. Nicholas as "real" Santa. However, I did not want to place any of my students in a crisis of Santa faith. I mean, how could there be two "real" Santas? I also had little desire to attempt to explain this to second language learners if they should want to delve into existential issues of the being of two Mr. Clauses. Therefore, I elected to go with the more cryptic message.
I told them that St. Nicholas looked like Santa, acted like Santa, and was the basis for the name Santa without leading them to the obvious conclusion that he must have been the basis for the entire fabricated Santa world.

I also elected to leave out St. Nicholas's sidekick, who was literally called "Black Pete", a man that followed St. Nicholas around and kidnapped all of the bad children from their parents. Was that supposed to teach them a lesson? How are the bad children meant to improve upon their mistakes? Were they issued some sort of warning in June or July informing them of their upcoming kidnapping should they refuse to turn their temper tantrums around? I see a lot of holes in this legend.

My students seemed to enjoy the day of chocolate-y goodness and most managed to leave before asking too many questions . . . Merry Christmas and Happy St. Nicholas Day, students! From Santa . . . cough, I mean, St. Nicholas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I was quite proud of our little Christmas tree until we got our first gift in the mail. It is too big to fit under the tree! Haha I guess I should just be excited to open such a huge box, but it makes tree pictures look a tad bit ridiculous. Case in point:

Christmas in Korea is much tamer than Christmas in the U.S., where companies try to smack you over the face with Christmas spirit. There is no Christmas music blaring and it is rare to see Christmas lights. Some might say it is refreshing, but I'm less enchanted. I actually like it when Christmas takes over Omaha. I'm not a fan of the consumerism of it all, but I do love the spirit. So I'm going to have to don a Santa hat from here on out to make sure Christmas goes wherever I go! Luckily, I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My poopypants...

Last night, Chin-Hwa fell asleep before me. I laid there and stared at his peaceful face (I swear that Chin-Hwa smiles when he is no coincidence that sleeping is one of his favorite pasttimes) splashed with moonlight. My mind started to wander and I thought about how I was so lucky to be with him at this particular moment. Just as I was nearing bliss, as well as nearing a stereotypical romantic movie moment during which I take out a conveniently located sketch pad and pencil so I could artfully capture this picture, he turned towards me and sighed...and my face was smacked with bad breath daggers, full of fear and spite.

Mood splintered.

These are the things you do not think about before deciding to move in with someone. So beware, young lovers. Beware! Don't start me on his recent hobby of pooping with the door open. (Yes, I know, Chin-Hwa, my conversation is enticing, but can't it wait?!)

Monday, November 22, 2010


I don't mean to brag, and I'm probably actually risking something by admitting that I watch such poopy television series religiously, but I think I could do relatively well on the show "America's Next Top Model." Now, I never would go on the show due to my thoughts regarding modeling and body image as well as my ideas about how young women should be spending their time (stop doing fashion research! How is that a hobby?!) but what I couldn't do would be put up with Tyra's serious ego trips. Please note the video link below, and then ask yourself, who does that? And then ask, who writes a blog about that? This girl, that's who!

There she goes, changing the entire face of fashion yet again. What would we do without her?

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Recently, I was lucky enough to travel to South Korea's second biggest city, Busan. (Seoul is the biggest city in Korea, but most of the cities seem huge to me!) Busan is on the southern most coast of Korea, and usually it would take five hours to drive there from Seoul, so six hours from my house. However, I found a superior mode of transport: the high speed rail.

The high speed rail, or KTX, was amazing. We traveled at an astounding 160 mph, and the only thing that felt strange was that my ears kept popping. It was also a little difficult to use the bathroom at such high speeds, but you don't need the nasty details, so I'll just move right along.

I traveled with my boss, Jae, and she booked us a nice little hotel room and figured out all of the travel options. It was so easy to travel because she knows Korean. I was amazed that whenever we had a question, she could simply go ask. These are the things I took for granted in the U.S.! I was very thankful to travel with her. We went to a beach in Busan (yes, it's November, but it was still beautiful!) and took a tram up to a lighthouse. Below the lighthouse were a bunch of "Women Divers." These elderly women spend their days going into the sea to get oysters and other yummy sea creatures and then sell them to tourists. We jumped right on that bandwagon, and I must say, for being from a landlocked state, I took those oysters down rather well. They were delicious, and while we ate, we sat right by the ocean water. Wow. I would have never guessed that I would have lived in Korea, let alone sat by the sea eating raw oysters.

We were also lucky to visit the largest department store in the world, Centum City. Yes, you read that right: the largest department store IN THE WORLD. It covers an entire city block. Please refer to the picture. And what did I do there? Shop? Get a massage? Enjoy the frivolities of travel? No. I clogged a toilet. Yep, I am that high class. At least I had the decency to tell one of the bathroom workers. I tapped her shoulder and said, "Um, there is a problem..." and walked away, ashamed and red faced.

This moment was the only bad moment on the trip, and I came back home, refreshed and wanting to travel again. Where to next?

Monday, November 8, 2010

G20 summit

The G20 Summit will happen in Seoul this Thursday and Friday. What is the G20 summit? Based on my quick research (I Googled it once...that counts, right?) I have discovered that leaders from the most influential economic markets across the world will gather together to discuss problems and solutions facing the world economy. Even Barack Obama is coming. You are probably falling asleep at the mere mention of such a dry meeting, but I assure you that it will not be boring due to the thousands of protesters that have started to gather all across the country. I don't know what exactly they are protesting, but they are loud and well organized, which is not surprising after witnessing how well Koreans can cheer together during a baseball game.

I have seen my share of protests (they protested about everything in Berkeley!) but we have been warned that these protests might turn violent. Seoul is off limits these next few days, although it would be exciting to see. I promise I will stay away! Here is more information if you are interested enough to explore:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Korean lesson from me to you

There are some songs that are stuck in my head forever...Jurassic Park score, Radio Gaga, Yesterday, and this doozy from Stephen Colbert. It's nice to see Korean culture spreading to the U.S. The whole video is worth a watch, but if you want to see the singing culture war between Stephen Colbert and Rain (sensational Korean pop star), skip to 2:20 on the video. Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween...bwahahaha

One of my favorite parts of my job is giving my students a healthy amount of indoctrination into U.S. culture. I enjoy teaching kids about unhealthy foods, idioms, and holiday traditions. So far, they have the general impression that all U.S. holidays are centered around food and/or candy, which really isn't that far off. It is for this reason that they love Halloween. A day all about getting candy from strangers? Hooray!

I have spent the last week writing scary stories with all of my students. (except the five year olds. I don't need them wetting themselves in fear in the middle of my class.) The resulting stories ranged from, "Uh, ok, nice try, but I think you missed the point," to "How does an eight year old write such freaky things?" Here are a few of my favorites for you to enjoy. Start your literary criticism engines, folks:

I Go to the Zoo

I go to the zoo in the morning. Because I want to see animals. I see a lion and an alligator. The lion is smiling at me. The alligator is swimming and the alligator is very scary. It has sharp teeth. I go home.

By: David

***If you're not scared, maybe you don't get it. I sure didn't. But a good try.

Girl and Mean Doll

There is a grandfather, a girl, and a doll in the house. It is the girl's birthday, so grandfater gives her a doll. Sometimes the doll is mean, and the doll looks like eyes are green, nails are long, and hair is brown color. When the doll is nice, her face is like a doll, her eyes are blue color, and hair is orange color. In the night, the doll walks and sits on the stairs two times. The girl comes to put the doll back on the bed but the doll takes a knife and kills the girl. Then, the doll walks to Sunnyside play room and the other toys are happy. Many children come to Sunnyside play room and the doll kills every child so it is the only doll in the country.

By: Amy

*Why are dolls so darn creepy? Really? Amy also drew a really disturbing picture to accompany her story, but I'll spare you so you can sleep tonight.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Festival

The days are getting shorter and there's a hint of frost in the air, which can only mean one thing: It is time for Ponca State Park.

My family makes an annual two hour drive north to the small town of Ponca, Nebraska to participate in Halloween-related festivities as well as partaking in Busch Light around the campfire. My friends in California would say, "Oh, how you make casseroles, too?" Yes. Yes, we do.

The Halloween events range from ridiculous to traditional. On the ridiculous side, the pumpkin roll. This involves standing at the top of the hill and hurling a pumpkin down. Whoever makes it the furthest wins. I've always thought this event was silly (probably because I never won) but I remember fondly the year Dad got hit in the head by an errant pumpkin and that more than makes up for all of my mixed emotions about this one. He was uninjured, which is why it's funny now, and he wore a bicycle helmet the next year just in case. On the more traditional side is a haunted hayrack ride (I'm too cool to admit it's sometimes scary) and pumpkin carving contest (The family with knives? Sounds juicy!).

Over the years, Ponca has taken on almost mythical qualities in my head. Whenever I see something naturally beautiful, I compare it to Ponca. I have compared the mountains of Oakland, the Redwood trees of San Francisco, the rare spot of forest in South Korea, and even the ocean to Ponca. If something is outside, I will probably say it looks like Ponca. Ponca is my nature. I make no apologies.

Ponca is a time and place of simple pleasures and good conversations, and I look forward to when I can return and take Chin-Hwa on a hike through the forests before we enjoy a Phase 10 tournament with Chris's chex mix.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Does anyone remember the 12 steps of intimacy? My own memory of it is hazy, except that it was a lesson from high school religion class and probably counted as our entire sex-ed requirement for sophomore year. Step one was eye contact and step 12 was baby making. We were ordered by our teachers and the Church to not go past step 7 until well after marriage, and I swear hugging was step 8. We even got little handouts that would fit in our wallet in case we needed a reference while out and about. "Can I hold hands without going to hell? Let me check and see...." We all thought the 12 steps of intimacy was a joke and a great source of entertainment.

Last night, Chin-Hwa and I reached step 13.

Before you start to let your head run wild (and before Mom gets any crazy ideas), get your mind out of the gutter!

He let me buzz his hair. Here is the before picture:

Doesn't he look so excited and trusting? The cape came with the buzzer set and I couldn't resist.

I was thrilled, and practically shaking with the sheer magnitude of power that I held in my ill-prepared hands. One mis-step and Chin-Hwa's crew cut could become Chin-Hwa's worst hairstyle ever. (and he has had some bad ones, so that would be quite a feat)

The military hairsyle is one of the ugliest and is very easy to maintain, so my only job was to clean up the neckline. It would have taken a normal person about five minutes, but I took about an hour due to bouts of trepidation and timidity. Here is the after pick:

I can predict your comments: "Subtle, yet artistic." "Breathtakingly simple in style, yet fashion-forward."

Stop, I'm blushing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is this too matchy matchy?

Chin-Hwa and I spent last Saturday at an amusement park called "Lotte World." (Lotte is a giant, possibly evil, corporation that has begun to take over large parts of South Korea. Not only do they have this amusement park, they also have multiple shopping malls, hundreds of stores, a food brand, and even a baseball team. Despite my personal hesitations regarding corporations, i.e. Walmart, Lotte is just so darn entertaining! Perhaps I would forgive Walmart if they just started a few amusements parks...)

The rides were amazing. Some of the roller coasters were so fun that I wondered if there were safety regulations in Korea...anyhoo, I lived to tell this tale so that's neither here nor there. The park was crowded, much like everything in Korea, and we spent a large chunk of time waiting in lines. Luckily, I was easily entertained and I spent the time staring at couples wearing matching outfits.

Ever since I got here last year, I noticed this common trend. For some reason, many couples on outings decide that it would be a great idea to wear matching outfits. Maybe this is so they could be easily identifiable if they should become separated, or maybe it's just because its so freaking adorable. The underwear stores even sell matching underwear sets, although it is harder to tell how many couples have decided to match in this way. It was difficult to try to capture all of these matching couples in pictures (they were suspicious of the white woman who was pretending to take pictures of her husband while secretly aiming the camera at them) but here is a sampling for you to enjoy.

Chin-Hwa has promised me that he would indeed wear a matching outfit if I did all of the footwork and found the clothes. He has no idea what's in store for him...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dentist time!

You know what's fun? Having healthy teeth. You know what's not fun at all? Having to go to the dentist to get said healthy teeth.

When I was younger, going to the dentist meant being told I had cavities. No matter how well I brushed my teeth, they functioned as veritable sugar sponges and filled with holes. I followed all of the dentist's advice and brushed religiously, singing a song as I brushed to ensure that I was cleaning long enough, but nothing helped. My teeth looked at fluoride and its supposed effectiveness and laughed.

Now that I'm older (just slightly though) I do not have cavities each time I visit the dentist. However, stop your celebration because this does not mean that my pain is over. Don't make me laugh a crooked, numbed mouth awkward laugh. Here's what happened...

This August, I was lucky enough to finally get dental insurance through the Army. (Wow, aren't they so nice? I almost forgot that they were war mongers!) I went to the local dentist, meaning a dentist in Korea, and I was told that I could have all sorts of work done at no cost to me. It was a jackpot of sorts, and I felt lucky. This feeling soon dissipated.

The dentist informed me that many of my silver fillings from my youth had mutated into broken trouble spots. He said he would have to redo them in gold, thereby making me look awesome, as well as redo some smaller white fillings. I smiled and nodded. Then he pulled out the mask.

I am used to a dentist wearing a mask during my visits. In fact, it would be strange if the dentist was not wearing one. I might think, "Um, hello! What do you think this is? Some sort of disease party?" I like the dentist's mask. It makes me feel comforted. I am NOT used to wearing a mask myself. And this was no normal mask. What it looked like was an opaque green cloth with a large hole for my mouth. I'm going to draw a picture:

The mask was meant to protect my face from spraying water, but what it actually did was make me feel claustrophobic and like I couldn't breathe. Not a good feeling, especially when water is running down your mouth and the dentist keeps telling you to "relax". Yeah, buddy, I'm going to relax when I can't see and feel like I'm suffocating. Good advice.

I suffered through four visits to the dentist to redo fillings. Three of the visits hurt immensely, and the fourth one just hurt a little bit. Today was my last visit to the dentist for a while (hooray!) and I was delighted to be well numbed for the fillings. Chin-Hwa was delighted to see that I couldn't smile right due to the after effects of the shot. Here's a picture for you to enjoy:

The moral of the story is brush well and often, unless you're me and then you just have to go to the dentist frequently.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Used Cars

Although I pride myself on my independence and on breaking down gender barriers whenever possible, there is one area of life that I seem to have no power in . . . automobiles. (I also have no interest in cars, but they just keep popping up.)

Cars make all of my ideals come crashing down. I've had two cars in my life and they were both Honda Accords. Dad helped Nickie and I find the first one and Mom helped me find the second. What I remember about them includes: their color and year, as well as the tragic ending of the first Honda. I knew they had engines but I knew nothing of the specifics. I also knew that the second one had a bad battery and an oil leak. When I had a problem with said vehicles, my ideals went straight out the door. I worked the pity angle. I stood aside and looked as helpless as possible. I thought of a stray kitten and tried to channel that emotion until someone came to help me. So I was none to excited to start looking for a used car in Korea.

Think of it. Not only are cars already confusing, but everything is in a different language. And in kilometers. Are you kidding me? Do you have any 92 Hondas I can just drive away right now?

Chin-Hwa and I began our day at a small lot that was owned by a family friend. The first salesperson I saw was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and had slightly thinning hair. I suddenly felt more at ease, knowing that at least car salesperson fashion can transcend continents. He tried to talk us into a smoky smelling Hyundai and we had good enough sense to back away slowly. The rest of our searching led us to assorted Hyundais, Kias, and Daewoos, none of which seemed right.

In the end, we gave one last ditch effort and rode the subway down to the Army base in Seoul. We figured at least those used car ads would be in English. We hit the veritable jackpot and were soon test driving a 96 Hyundai Accent through a parking lot. One hour later, we were putting down our deposit. She ain't a beauty, but hey, she's alright. We are now car owners.

Now I have to begin mentally preparing for the countless harrowing moments behind the wheel among these crazy Korean drivers...oh, and I have to go find a Hello Kitty themed carseat cover. And a GPS.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My dream come true!

Something magical has happened, if you'll be kind enough to forgive the upcoming pun which you would have to in order to continue reading... I have successfully merged my love for Harry Potter into my everyday life. Nooo, this is more than when I wore the shirt or experimented with Quidditch in Berkeley.

I started teaching Harry Potter in one of my classes. This might not seem like a big deal, but what this means is I am going to be paid moolah to talk HP (a real fan doesn't have to spell it out)for an hour a week. The student who is lucky enough to enjoy my rantings about the upcoming Triwizard tournament is lucky John Kim. (There was supposed to be one more student, but he dropped out of the academy right before I began the lessons. He probably couldn't handle the sheer excitement of me practicing spells) He told me he has read HP three times in Korean and one time in English. To test his level of fandom, I asked him if he knew the spells. I hid my judgement when he said no.

We have read the first three chapters and the possibities are endless. I'm thinking field trip to the movies, field trip to the HP theme park, pretending we are robbing Gringotts, bringing Jenna and Katie in as guest speakers, etc. I have already bored, I mean, enlightened, John with my theories regarding Mrs. Figg. He is in for a series of treats. Chin-Hwa, however, is less than excited for me. He still remembers when we first started dating and HP 7 came out. I went to Borders to pick it up. He came there a few hours later, hoping to see his lovely boo. I told him that I had a previous commitment to read HP all night at Katie's aunt's house. He didn't believe me at first, and it wasn't until I told him I was choosing HP over him that he got the hint.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jet Lag

I have been conditioned by the world to say that I hate jet lag... but this is a complete and utter lie. I've been "suffering" from jet lag since I returned to Korea last Sunday, and my life has been coming up roses. I've become a MORNING PERSON. The other day I even woke up before my alarm went off. It was, well, alarming. And oddly refreshing.

There's a whole world out there! And most of it wakes early! In the morning, I can get things done! I can make an actual breakfast! I can read a book! I can watch television! I have even cleaned. It's amazing what a girl can do before 10 a.m.

It is possible that this is just a phase and that I will be back to my old ways soon. But until then, I'm riding this wave. I am doing some laundry and writing some emails and you can't stop me.

*I realize this post might sound unbelievable, particularly to anyone who has lived with me, especially that one semester when all of my classes started at 2 p.m. Nickie is probably peeing her pants right now. I swear its true. Also, I should add that my definition of waking early is 7 a.m. I hope this still counts.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The paradox of crabby wabby

When I was younger, I wasn't always perky and adorable. Now, I know.....wait, what's that? Oh, do you have a question, conveniently imaginary student in the back of my pretend classroom? Yes, yes, I know this is hard to believe. Just remember what I told you on the first day of class, that those of us who seem perfect now haven't always been that way. Now, for the sake of the story, lay your questions aside and go with it.

OK, I had some days I was pretty rotten. (Nickie was rotten more days than me, but that's neither here nor there.) When I was being particularly poopy, one of my mom's favorite things to do was to grab me and give me a huge hug while saying, "Why are you so crabby wabby?" I never understood this tactic at that age. I know now that this was probably very cathartic for her, but this comment was sure to insence younger me. I would scream, "I'M NOT CRABBY WABBY!" which just didn't help my case.

Mom had me. I could either choose to deny her accusation vehemently and further my trip into crabby land or I could not deny it, thereby furthering my trip up crabby mountain. I still don't know a proper response to that's a conundrum I'll have to propose to my philosopically minded friends who will probably enjoy spending entire weekends devoted to this one question.

Why do I bring this up? Well, the other day, when Chin-Hwa was going on and on about some stupid...ahem, entirely meaningful, thing that happened to him that day, I (really! true story!) asked him why he was so crabby wabby. I said it. It was fast; it was natural; it came out of my own two lips. This phrase from my childhood reemerged. I was mortified.

I don't know if Chin-Hwa even realized that I said such an adorably annoying phrase such as "crabby wabby." I, however, heard it as if it was slow motion. And I will admit that it made me feel a little better...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An open letter

Dear Republic of Korea,

We need to talk. I've been married for a while now and I'm starting to figure out how to do conflict better. I can no longer ignore something that has been eating away at me since the day I arrived (such as a certain someone's infatuation with tennis raquets, cough cough). Bottling up feelings is unhealthy and I can't be controlled by them. I'm a strong, independent woman, dammit, and you're about to get a piece of my mind. You've been getting off too easy. Plus, this is all really your fault and I'm always right so you need to just sit down and listen.

Please, for the love of GOD and everything holy, have someone proofread your use of the English language.

Some people think your little phrases are adorable. I, however, am insenced. What set me off on this particular rampage was that I saw a national ad campaign for a pastry shop that advertised its "3th anniversary." While I understand that the ins and outs of ordinal numbers can be quite confusing, (why do we need those little mini-letters anyways? What did we do before Word autocorrected them for us?) anyone with a fluent knowledge of English could have picked up on that mistake. Heck, even some of my eight year olds would have told you that was wrong. I mean, I'm not calling you stupid, I'm just saying you're really dumb. And now you have gone and printed it. No, worse than that--you have printed it and then distributed it to your national chain of pastry shops.

And you know what makes it even worse? I know I am probably the only person to have noticed this. Well, and Chin-Hwa, who has to listen to me talk about these things at home.

I know I should have said something earlier. On my first day in the apartment, which was BRAND NEW, I was in the parking garage and saw something appalling. It wasn't a Hummer H3 and it wasn't roadkill. It was the fact that someone had painted the word "ENTERANCE" on countless pillars and poles. I laughed it off at the time and talked to my friends about it, but I should have put my foot down. Now the problem has just festered. I now realize the error of my ways, which are few, and the much larger missteps on your end.

Please respond accordingly,
Your friend, but nearly foe,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Travel Plans

I left the U.S. of A. on August 13th, 2009, and now I'm planning on making a return trip! Chin-Hwa and I are hoping to be back in the States for a one month vacation starting around July 20th. (The exact details are still up in the air, thanks to the Army, but you let us worry about that. All you have to do is get excited!) We're going to stay in the midwest (mostly because the midwestern summers are oh so enjoyable) and I want to see as many of you as possible! So if you have been desiring to return to Omaha in secret, don't be clandestine and wait no longer. If you really want to check out Kansas City's barbeque, make your plans.

I have a few things I will check on once I'm back:
1. Does the flag still have fifty stars? Or did Puerto Rico finally sneak in?
2. Does freedom still reign superior?
3. Is Wendy still afraid of thunderstorms?
4. Are refried beans truly a gift from the heavens?
5. Does Nickie still look like me?
6. Is Grandma's strawberry rhubarb jam still the jam?
7. Does David have facial hair?
8. Did Dad repaint the house again?
9. Does Mom still love free concerts?
10. If I make puppy chow, will Emily Kroenke sense it from afar and come to me?

If you would like to help me complete these missions, let me know. I will need some backup.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup

I find it to be more and more difficult to come up with things to say as I have become increasingly accustomed to life here. There are some things that seemed strange to me upon arrival that are now normalized. These things include:

1. Pressing a button on my restaurant table to call the server over so I can point to indicate what I need refilled. I usually throw in a smile, too, at no extra charge.

2. Old ladies pushing me to get on the subway cars. They are agressive and have really sharp elbows!

3. All of my students have cell phones. They are seven years old and have cell phones. And, to add to my amazement, their phones ring far more frequently than mine does. Wah wahhhh

All those things aside, one event that I could speak of if it wasn't so intensely boring is the World Cup. These games have captivated the entire Republic of Korea. This picture is Ji-Sung Park, Korea's best player. On game days, people will dress in red to match Korea's jerseys (it's just like Husker days! Except dull!) and watch the games. The most recent game aired at 3:30 a.m. here in Korea. Now, I'm no diehard sports fan. I would (and have) wake up at 3:30 for Harry Potter movies or books, but to watch a soccer game? No thanks.

Judging by the amount of cheering I heard through my apartment windows this morning, I am unique in this anti-soccer sentiment. Korean fans are dedicated, and, as previously mentioned, they do love their thunder sticks. Korea will now go on to the next level of play, much to my chagrin and everyone else's joy, and the captivation with soccer will continue.

I have one suggestion for soccer, in case it's reading this very blog: Please stop ending in ties. I don't care about subtle rules or the ins and outs of the game. I'm not looking for an explanation. I am hoping for a fabulous shoot out at the end of every tie, a la Mighty Ducks 2. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To David, on his birthday

Today is my little brother's 18th birthday, and I can't believe how time has gone. To help commemorate this day, a story:

My family always did road trips when I was growing up. We would go and buy sufficient amounts of candy, and Dad could pack anything into the trunk. Mom was in charge of music and always had good tunes. Our only problem was that we had a Toyota sedan. So David, Nickie, and I crammed into the back seat. Nickie and I always pulled rank and made David sit in the middle.

David was always a perfect angel as a child crammed into a small space for multiple What child could be? I mean, even I, a child who was perfect almost all of the time, would get antsy on drives to Chicago. He was okay until his Gameboy battery ran out. After that, it was time for his imagination to run wild. And his young brain always decided upon one explicit goal: "I must annoy Jackie."

David would literally poke me for hours. I always tried to ignore it and stay engrossed in my Babysitter's Club book, but he was so darn persistent. He would poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, all while quietly, a girl can only be so patient. After a few hours of this (or maybe a few minutes. You know how I tend to exaggerate) I knew I had to take action. Everyone has a breaking point. David found mine. So I threw him an elbow right in the sternum. David doubled over and moaned a pathetic moan. I tried to look innocent and explain my inner motivations.

You'll never guess who was punished.

It made perfect sense at the time. Now, I realize the error of my ways. No matter how gently one tries to elbow, it always hurts. There's no way to soften that blow.

The thing that was most frustrating during all of this was not that David was bothering me, it was that he was bothering me exclusively. He was sitting in between two sisters, both easily annoyed, and yet he focused his powers of irritation on me. Why, smaller David, why?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Go Doosan!

A few years ago, if you had asked me what one does at a baseball game, I would have said, "Oh, you mean after you find your seats and before the seventh inning stretch?......Your guess is as good as mine. Really. I spend the time looking for the kiss cam. And wishing that A League of Their Own was real."

That was the old me.

I know that you might be hoping that I delve into a discussion about the subtle strategy of baseball and the beautiful simplicity....wait. No one would ever want that (except Uncle Bob, but I'll leave that to him...not saying your boring, but, uh, cough...yeah) I'm coming at you with something far more entertaining: large coordinated cheers.

Koreans have evolved far beyond the wave, and their number one accessory is the thunderstick. The crowd isn't just cheering for your run of the mill homerun, no sir-ee. They cheer for every at bat, every strike, every ball.*

The thundersticks are powerful. I wanted some...and for the cost of about $1.60, I had them. Unfortunately, I couldn't also purchase a working knowledge of Korean and a side of rhythm. After my single experience of a Korean baseball game, I have reached the unquestionable conclusion that the effective use of thundersticks requires the skills of what is known in the business as a "triple threat." One must be able to sing, dance, and act. Slapping two half full inflatables was not quite enough to cut it. I did do enough to earn a team spirit award though, seeing as I managed to make it though a few innings without inadvertenly smacking someone in the face.

*Chin-Hwa has just informed me that Americans cheer for everything, too, but I must have blocked this from my memories of baseball games of yesteryear. I usually block EXTREMELY BORING things, and baseball would be among them.*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Korean Holidays

Children's day was every bit of craziness I had imagined. (It has taken me weeks to get over the shock to write this post....okay, I was just lazy. But the first story is much better, so I am sticking to that!) I walked around the streets of a nearby neighborhood with some friends and we found a Children's day festival. The festival had food, rides, dance performances, and many, many people. It was like a mosh pit at a concert at the Ranch Bowl, but filled with kids wearing nametags and parents trying not to lose said kids. I've included one picture to give you an idea, but it doesn't quite capture the number of people present. Plus, there is an old man in the front. Just ignore him.

The highlight was running into a few of my students, who looked at me in such a way as to indicate that they had no idea that I had a life outside of school. The fact that I was with other Americans really made their heads spin. Most of them gave me a quick hello and goodbye and ran off to continue to enjoy their days. One of them bought me a Fanta. He was particularly brave.

Since Children's day, we have also celebrated Parents' day and Teacher's day. Guess which one was my favorite?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Children's Day

Although many of you think of May 5th as Cinco de Mayo, for the children of Korea, this day is something much greater: Children's Day.

What is Children's Day? I'm not quite sure yet, as tomorrow will be my first experience of the holiday. However, it seems like it is a day when all Korean children are spoiled rotten. Is anyone really surprised? I mean, look at Ji-Bin and Eun-Bin's faces above. Could you say no? I know I sure couldn't. What's that, Ji-Bin? You want my most prized possessions? Well, it is Children's sure. Take it and run, kid.

They don't go to school; they are showered with presents; their parents take the day off so they can celebrate by going to amusement parks and other places of childhood dreams; they've been counting the days for months.

I'm prepared for complete insanity. I have the day off, since the children are freed from school, and I almost want to wander around just to see if it is as crazy as I have imagined. I'm picturing kids running and screaming through the streets, covered in cotton candy remnants and wild-eyed from the pounds of sugar they have consumed. I'm visualizing the parks becoming a mob of kids fighting over single swings as their parents try to seperate them out. I'm seeing a rise in sales of Nintendo products at Lotte Mart. I'm prepared for the worst.

A few friends and I are going to brave the storm and go to lunch. If I make it back in one piece, I'll give you all a full report. If not, at least I will go down surrounded by giant clouds of joy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clearasil should never give one a false sense of security

Although I wash, exfoiliate, Clearasil, and moisturize my face twice a day (someone's gotta take care of this money maker!) I still get zits. I once thought my zitty times were over, but alas. And these are not the small, easy to cover type zits--I'm talking about the huge, can't look away even if one tried type zits. Not very attractive, but I am usually able to ignore them. After all, I know I'm more than a blemish.

Until last week.

The story: I was hit with two huge zits at once. One was on my forehead and the other one was on my cheek. They were red, swollen, and disgusting. They actually hurt. These things were intense.

I forgot about these two beauties until I got to school. Over the course of one day, I had no less than twenty students staring at the blemishes, four students gasping at the sheer magnitude of the zits, and three brave students ask me, "Ms. Jackie! What happened to your face?" Thanks, kids. I'm so glad I'm teaching you enough English for you to manage to ask me embarrasing questions. For the younger students, I told them I "hurt" my face. I didn't want to go into a vocabulary lesson regarding clogged pores, and I figured a tinge of shame might serve them right. (What's that, Jasmine? You want to know what happened to my face? Well its a horrible story and now I'm injured. Are you glad you asked? Huh? Are you???) For the older kids, I told them they were pimples. I even translated "pimple" into Korean so they could know exactly what I was talking about. After all, I'm supposed to be teaching them so I might as well turn my face into a lesson plan.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga must have read my thesis.

Tonight, that is the only explanation that I can reach after watching her video for the second time. (

I must admit, I'm intrigued. How did this pop goddess manage to work a women's prison in with an infectious dance beat? Perhaps this song is what I was missing from my thesis of last year.

If you haven't seen this video, then you have to go look it up. Why? Because it will make your brain spin. Lady Gaga is either crazy, a genius, or both. I'm not always on board with the latest pop crazes (I never gave in to the NSync craze of yesteryear and I haven't heard anything on the radio for over six months), but this one caught me. Lady Gaga is already quite a character and now that she's teamed up with Beyonce, I think they might be planning on taking over the world. I'm not so sure I would mind that. Dance breaks for everbody!

One of the parts of the video that really stuck out to me was the fact that Lady Gaga utilized the classic "my hand is my phone" schtick and made into a hip new dance fad. I only use the thumb-pinkie hand phone when I'm making fun of Jersey Shore, but now that it's cool, I'll be motioning for people to "call me" all the time.

Really I only write this because I can't get over it. Really. I mean, the message is so relatable. There's nothing I hate more than when I'm trying to work out my emotions on a dance floor and my phone keeps vibrating. I'm like, geez, what is this, Grand central station? Stop telephoning me. I'm trying to dance. Who hasn't been there? Thank you, Lady Gaga, for finally putting words to this experience.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I have experienced culture shock many times since I've been here in Korea, but last weekend was one of the most mind-numbing of all. Chong-Suk, Chin-Hwa's mom, came to visit. On one weekend, she, her sister, her brother, and I drove five hours to Busan, which is a city on the coast of Korea. We would be meeting family. Chin-Hwa couldn't come because he was away at training. I was flying solo.

I was immersed into Korea in every sense of the word. Chong-Suk and I met thirty of her family members and the only ones who let on that they spoke English were Chong-Suk and a few kids who were too busy staring at me to squeak out a few syllables. We ate at a traditional Korean restaurant where I flaunted my chopsticks skills (see picture--Duck in squash=delicious!) and then drove around the city. The next morning, we visited a few sites in Busan, icluding a Buddhist temple that was more than 1000 years old.

Although I enjoyed much of my time in Busan, I spent the weekend in near silence. This was a strange sensation, but one to which I've become quite accustomed. I'm a chatter by nature, but this was a time when that was impossible. I found myself rlying upon body language and smiles. I also relied upon my iTouch and its many games.

I remember when Chin-Hwa met my family for the first time. I was so nervous for him and thought he might struggle. After my times here, however, he owes me a few good hours of attempts at conversation with family members!

Here is a picture of the family dinner:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Korean Hotel

Well, Chin-Hwa and I stayed in our first Korean hotel. The reason we had to leave home was that Chong-Suk, Chin-Hwa's mom, was in town and we had to travel 5 hours south to her parents' grave sites. (which is a normal Korean tradition--if you are back in Korea, you are supposed to go see the graves.)

Anyhoo, the hotel was unlike American hotels. For one, the building had a large Statue of Liberty affixed to the top. (I regret that I was unable to snap a photo of this.) It was as cheesy as you can imagine--trust me. The hotel room was, well, colorful and seedy, all at once. It was a strange mixture of luxurious and disgusting. Luxury items included a heated toilet seat and bed. Even more importantly, the room had its own karaoke system. We could not figure out how to work it properly, but we both sang into the mic just for kicks.

The disgusting part for me was the fact that all of the lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and even toothpastes were in economy-sized containers and had already been opened and used by other customers. They were veritable germ factories. Therefore, I avoided those products like the plague.

Look through the photos to get a better picture of the place:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kids Cafe

*I didn't take any pictures at the kids cafe because it was crazy. I put up this pajama party picture as a contrast. We made them fake sleep. Don't they look quiet and innocent? Now think of the opposite. That's how they were at the kids cafe.*

Imagine having forty toddler to school age children and taking them to a glorified McDonald's indoor play area. Then, throw in good food, coffee, and beer. What you get is the Little Prince Kids Cafe.

I had the joy of experiencing this cafe on Friday, when my boss and I took 30 students there for a Flea Market party. The kids went crazy. They screamed as they went into the ball pit. They screamed as they went on the merry-go-round. They screamed as they purchased sugary drinks from the counter. And, they screamed as they pounded their candy. It was deafening and exhilarating all at once. If I had been 8 years old, I would be in little Jackie heaven. But as a 26 year old Jackie, I was strengthened in my resolve to wait a few more years before having a bundle of joy myself.

The best part of it all was imagining a group of mothers taking their kids to this cafe and letting the happy Little Prince workers watch their kids as they took in a few brews. (It reminded me of our parents poker games of yesteryear.) If I were a mother, I would relish in the chance to sit and chat while the kids went haywire. Nickie and I could catch up and drink while the kids bond and drool and consume mass quantities of sugar. Sounds like a plan!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Foreign toilets.

I thought my days of embarrassing toilet moments were over. I share the following story with you in order to entertain you at my expense.

Today I traveled south to Yongsan to see Stephanie Houston. (Mercy Monarchs...flutter flutter 4 EVA) We had a very enjoyable evening, which almost made up for what had happened earlier in the day...

I was making a transfer at one of the subway stations and I had what one might call a bathroom emergency. (I have a lot of bathroom emergencies for being a twenty-six year old, but that's for another day and an extremely bored audience.) I really, really had to go. I saw a sign that said restrooms were 90 meters away, and although I had no idea what distance that was, I hoped it was close. I made my way there only to find that there was only one regular toilet and it was taken.

Now, let me clarify. There were many available stalls, but all of them were labeled with a sign that did not look like a toilet (see below). It looked like a bidet. I now know that it was a "squat toilet." However, I had never ventured into one of these bathrooms due to my fear of the unknown, so I could only assume they were the mystical toilets that Chin-Hwa had told me about.

I was desperate, so I entered one of the open stalls. (I figured it was a better choice than peeing my pants or crawling under the occupied door of the regular toilet. You be the judge.) The toilet was closer to a hole in the ground that was surrounded by porcelain so it would not look like a hole in the ground. It looked like a toilet bowl that was laid into the floor. It had water and could be flushed and everything. Needless to say, I didn't have time to dwell on the particulars. I had to go. I unzipped, crouched down, and let it fly.

I missed.


The details aren't important. I'll just say that it was embarrassing and required more clean up than I had hoped. I am not not proud, but I can say that I will indeed try again. After I ask Chin-Hwa for some directions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Last Sunday was Korean New Year, also known as Seollal, Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, depending on one's mood and location. On this day, Koreans go and meet their families and celebrate their ancestry. Most Koreans travel to their hometowns if possible, and spend the day eating and celebrating. Chin-Hwa had a long weekend and we were lucky to see his late father's family on the holiday.

Meeting Chin-Hwa's family is always awkward for me. I can't communicate with them, my chopstick usage is faulty at best, and I have a really hard time sitting on the floor for long meals. Chin-Hwa's cousin's kids Eun-Bin and Ji-Bin were very excited to see me (duh!) and quickly began to make fun of Chin-Hwa's accent, which is one of their favorite pastimes. Ji-Bin asked me many questions, none of which I understood but she was persistent, and even sat on my lap and tried to see if I would give her my necklace. Please keep in mind that Ji-Bin is the same girl who infamously asked for my beloved Hello Kitty phone bauble, which Chin-Hwa freely offered to her because she cried (he's such a wimp). I told her she could not have my necklace because it was a gift from my grandma. She saw this as an acceptable excuse, and proceeded to giggle as I tried to eat my kimchi.

Chin-Hwa's family were very nice and polite, and I took some pictures with them to share. They gave Chin-Hwa trouble for not having taught me Korean yet and smiled and nodded as I asked them questions through Chin-Hwa. Overall, it was a very enjoyable holiday and one I hope I'll be able to celebrate again.

Please enjoy the picture album below if you want to see a bunch of Koreans and me:

Friday, February 12, 2010

A confession...

...I'm not much of a dog person. There are a few exceptions to this general rule (Sophie Anzur and Wendy when she's not puking or barking) but if you own a dog, and you asked me what I thought of said dog, and I was feeling scandalous, I would probably admit that I'm not a fan. Please don't take it personally. Dogs are just to eager and too smelly. I prefer the standoffish, near hatred that cats offer.

I bring this up because it seems as though about half of the residents in our apartment complex own at least one dog. I always catch them gathering, discussing the merits of treats vs. punishment, snausage vs. puppy chow, and other such doggie things, and I try to shirk away quietly. Their dogs can always sense me passing, and seem to see it as an opportunity to convert me from my cat-loving ways. They bound up to me, drooling all the way, and then I am forced to reach down and pet them. Why, you might ask? Because I have this strange idea that any one else would do the same thing. I can't openly scorn a stranger's pet, unless it is actively attacking me. It would be in poor taste.

Imagine my disappointment when I opened the elevator door recently to find an eager dog owner and her even more eager companion. I was trapped. I had to reach down with my hand outstretched. I let her dog show me adoration for what I felt was an appropriate amount of time. Her dog licked my arm up to my elbow, despite me sending it body language signals to stop while it was still ahead. What did the woman say to me next?

"Be careful. He's been eating his poop today."

That would have been helpful information FIVE MINUTES AGO. Who the heck do you think you are? Do you think I like having poopy slobber hands? NO. I was upset.

And this is was yet another reason for me to silently scorn dog owners. Who would let a dog lick a stranger before telling said innocent stranger that the dog had a dirty secret?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Trashy television

*Editor's note: Yes, I do look crazy in this picture. Why? Because that's how I feel on the inside when I watch Jeff Probst announce the next kooky challenge for immunity. Still.*

Although I have not had a television with cable for the last few years, my fascination with trashy reality television has only worsened.

There was something about watching Tila Tequila's Shot at Love (and part two...I'm not too ashamed to admit that I, too, wanted to know if she would find love the second time around) or the more recent Jersey Shore that makes me feel so intrigued. I spend the hour judging the actions of the participants on these shows (Ronnie! Don't punch him!), whilst I sit, covered in thousands of tiny, sharp pieces of skittles that missed my mouth and using my toe to move the mouse so I don't have to get up.

Chin-Hwa likes to make disparaging remarks about my television choices, as if his YouTube binges consisting of 80s and 90s hits are far superior (Toto? Really?), but even he can't quite look away in the middle of The Bachelor. I could say that I watched it to see the beautiful and familiar scenery of San Francisco, but really I just wanted to know if Ali would finally slap Vienna or not.

I've heard that people can make a living doing cultural studies. I want in on this mythical cash cow. I want to be featured on Bravo, analyzing the upcoming season of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Maybe I'll even try out for the 50th season of Survivor and pretend to be the dumb blonde who later reveals that she has a Nobel prize...oh, I'm dreaming big, people. And it's all centered around t.v.

Until then, I'll waste far too much time gaping at others' life choices and pretending like I know enough about fashion to tell who's going to make it on America's Next Top Model or Project Runway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A pitiful venture into the Korean language

I have had countless embarrassing moments while here in Korea, ranging from getting lost in a mall to accidentally picking up some chicken feet at a buffet, but this story is one of the worst. You may wonder why I have waited so long to share it, and my only answer is that I was filled with shame. Until now. Now, I can laugh at it. Click on this highly flattering picture below to watch a video of me telling the story. You have to click on it twice:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kids are like adults

The seven and eight year old kids of Korea amaze me. Yesterday, I walked one of my students out to the bus stop so she could ride home. She knew which bus to take, what stop to get off at, and how to pay the fare. She was confident and made it on the correct bus successfully.

Let me contrast this with my eight year old self. When I was little, I had no idea where I lived. I would get lost on long walks. Whenever Mom or Dad was driving, I was in the backseat reading a book (usually Baby Sitters Club. Those were real page turners). I didn't know what Dodge street was, and whenever I was asked to give directions, I just told them to call Mom or Dad. If someone had told me to try to take a bus home, I would have ended up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a fate I do not wish upon anyone, least of all my younger, confused self.

Also, almost all of my students have a cell phone. The only person who calls them is their mom, but still. I got my first cell phone when I was 16. Nickie and I had to share it and it didn't even have caller id. The main person who called us was Mom, so in that way, we weren't all that different from my students...

These kids are so hardworking! They have such nimble, small hands! They learn so quickly! No wonder child labor is such a difficult concept to shake. I'm not interviewing for the new Nike PR spot (Child Labor! Discipline! Strength! All before the age of 10!) I'm just forever amazed at the ingenuity of children around me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm a food addict in my dreams

Although I have acquired a strong fondness for Korean food, I really miss some of the options I had back in Omaha and California. I would do almost anything for some Greek food, (hummus! Please!) and I can't even mention LaCasa without tears coming to my eyes. I am thanking my lucky stars that we managed to find a fabulous Indian restaurant, and Korea is not without pizza restaurants, but certain cravings just can't be stopped.

And then I had a crazy dream.

I dreamt I was in a caravan of cars full of people, none of whom I knew except Nickie. Nickie was driving, but I knew all of the directions. (that would never, ever happen in real life. Really. I get lost in the hallway right outside of my apartment door) We were in a large red suburban. The car was full. (which reminded me of our old family road trips in the Toyota sedan, where David would poke me repeatedly while being very obvious that he was treating Nickie like gold) I looked out of the right-hand window to see a giant corn cob shaped sign proclaiming "RUNZA." I asked Nickie to stop so we could get some wonderful, dough-covered, onion-filled, German-inspired treats. She refused, and we kept driving. I woke up in a cold sweat immediately following her denial.

What a cruel sister.

What a cruel subconscious. This dream was vivid. And my bitterness was palpable.

Nothing can substitute for a Runza.

So now I play the waiting game.

I didn't even realize I loved Runza that much. And now it's all I can think about. Great.

*Editor's note: For all of you who are not familiar with Runza, I will not go into an explanation. Why? It's too painful. Plus, if you live outside of the Midwest or if you are a vegetarian, you can't have it either. Ignorance is bliss. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Well, we've finally had our blizzard.

Whenever I would ask someone about Korean winters, (which was frequent, I assure you. I had to know what I'm dealing with here. No one warned me about Californian winters, and I lived in agony.) everyone talked about how cold it would get. No one mentioned any snow. In fact, they said it probably wouldn't snow. And I trusted them.

And now Korea's been hit by the biggest blizzard in almost a century. It all started on Monday morning. The snow fell in huge snowflakes. It was wet, fluffy, and cold, like most snows. (You never know what to expect in a foreign land! Snow could be backwards here, you know, like lava or something. Use your imagination.) When I left the apartment to go to work, there were almost no cars on the road. This is unheard of. It was almost eerie, to walk outside and not have to wait for the walk signal and then have to look again because most cars ignore the walk signal. There were no plows. No salt trucks. Nothing. The only group of people I saw were a bunch of old women who were shoveling the walkways of the apartment.

I walked to the subway station because I knew that if nothing else, it would still be in operation. The subway station was packed, and the train was even fuller. I had the same idea as every other person who had to work.

Here are some pictures of the snow, from one weather-obsessed Midwesterner to another:

If you click on the slide show, it will bring you to my photo website where you can leave comments and see bigger pictures! Who could resist?