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?