Tuesday, December 27, 2011

real sanitary, guys.

yes, that is a giant pile of manure.
yes, that giant pile of manure is almost as tall as the house behind it.
yes, that is a dog sitting on top of the giant pile of manure.
and yes, this is totally normal for goseong, south korea. 

Monday, December 26, 2011


awkward photos.

ahhhhh, the glories of having goobers for friends.


my friend susie gave me a gift card to kiva.org for a going away present. and it was so amazing. so kiva is a non profit that is trying to alleviate poverty by connecting people willing to give loans with hardworking families, farmers, and entrepreneurs around the world who need a little boost. it's an amazing organization and has already made $268 million in loans since 2005. pretty cool if you ask me.
i spent a ton of time looking at all the profiles and could hardly begin to pick just one, so i picked four and had some of my friends help me pick the best one. i decided on Angel Miguel Pena Puente.
my heart melted when i read the following in his profile:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

little bugger.

this is how a photo shoot with monkey goes:
trying to dong shim me AGAIN. apparently never gets old for him.

10 yr old multitasking: playing nintendo and attacking teacher at the same time.

slapping my phone out of my hand. while laughing hysterically. 

 ah, my little monkey. part devil part boy. after school while i was opening my bag to get my bus money out, he spied an air head candy that my mom sent me from home. he snagged it out of my bag so fast i hardly noticed it. he then proceeded to rub it in everyone else's faces. acting all dramatic-like, pretending that it was the best candy in the world. i pulled out my phone to check the time and he grabbed that too. and ran. seriously the speedy reflexes on that kid. i pretended that i didn't care so he'd give it back and before i knew it the bus came and he gave me back the phone with a dirty little smirk on his face. i knew he had to have done something, so i checked my phone, but didn't notice anything. i headed into sokcho and by the time i got back home, it was dark. as i was walking through the parking lot to my building i saw monkey playing all by himself in the parking lot. it was pitch black out. and he was just chilling. climbing porches and throwing ice balls. he screamed when he saw me and ran up, grabbed my bag, and pulled out the fleece-lined leggings i just bought and used them as a jumprope before i could even stop him. once again, THE REFLEXES. seriously. after kicking me at least 5 times and jumping from a porch onto my back, i gave him a dirty look because he wasn't being nice anymore and left. ann-yay-gah-se-yoh hy-mon-ee. (goodbye grandma) and as I was walking away my phone rang. i picked it up and monkey answered yelling who knows what at me in korean, and then hung up. i could hear him laughing from inside the building. little bugger.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

weekend update: DMZ, bulgolgi & a downgraded splash mtn. adventure

whoa, what a busy weekend. all the TaLK teachers in my province got to meet up together for a cultural trip at the DMZ. it was full of delicious food, so many museums, and secret (illegal) picture taking. 

(we stayed at the Peace Life Valley Center. it is a plot of land that is part garden-musuem-hotel-convention center. it's located just miles from the DMZ and tries to promote all forms of peace. peace with yourself, peace with nature, and peace with others. with that kind of motivation, the whole center was solar powered and beautifully designed to coincide with the environment that surrounded it. above is the room that i stayed in. cotton sleeping pads and blankets are pretty common for korean hotels. way nicer than a jimjibang, but still not quite the same as a bed.)

(our fantastic POE, or the guy that is in charge of all the teachers in the province, had a full day planned for us. we ended up going to 4 different museums in one day. holy moly right?)

(pottery discovered in the area from 3,000 BC at at prehistoric ruin museum. double holy moly.)

(persimmon paintings. i don't think i'd ever seen a persimmon in real life before korea. in goseong they grow everywhere. at first i had no idea what the heck they were. but now i have tried them in all forms. raw, dried and smoothied. i didn't like them at first, but they are surely growing on me. also, they're a super bizarre looking fruit. most aren't ripe until late fall, early winter when all the tree's leaves have fallen. they look like alien plants growing fruit on bare branches.)

(museum employee.) 

(another curator. so chic.)

(VIP room at a museum. piiiiiimpin.)

(the bus we drove around in)

(because we were so close to the DMZ, the military presence was strong. we had to stop at checkpoints and ask for permission to pass and soldiers checked out the bus.)

(the food was delicious. 
bulgolgi (korean beef) stew above and bibimbap (rice and mtn vegetables) below.)

 and then we finally made it to the DMZ. it stands for the DeMilitarized Zone. it's the policed border between south korea and north korea. a lot about it reminds me of the berlin wall. so during the korean war and as recently as the 1980's, north korea attempted to attack south korea by bypassing the DMZ with underground tunnels. so far south korea has detected 4 different tunnels before they actually reached south korean soil. we got to visit one and actually go inside the tunnel.

(the entrance to the tunnel)
all photos were forbidden and were policed by soldiers, but luckily i read my camera manual the day before and learned how to turn off all noises and flashes while taking a picture. heh heh.

 (my girl claire dancing in the tunnel entrance)

 (we had to get on this rickety SUPER sketchy baby railroad car (imagine the little trains that babies can ride at the zoo) which took us through the actual tunnel that the north koreans had dug. it was real bumpy, everything was wet and muddy and potentially dangerous. we saw marks from the dynamite used and north korean railroad tracks.)

OVERALL OPINION: the perfect start to jam-packing as much korean culture as i can in my last weeks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


 so my girl susie asked me this question a couple of weeks ago:

"If there's one student you would've treated stricter from the beginning, who would be it and why?"

and all i can say is that most of my kids could have benefited from a bit more professionalism on my part.

1. when my kids scream my name and wave as i walk into the cafeteria, i blow kisses and they die of giggle fits.
2. my "talk dates," which are supposed to be one-on-one review sessions, have turned into speed competitions.
3. i have had multiple dance parties with my first grade girls on the school porch.
4. kids have tried multiple times to pull my pants down.
5. i have been dong-shimmed twice.
6. kids in grades 1and 2 steal my lesson planner at least twice a day and laugh when i realize it's gone and when i attempt to scold them, they laugh even harder.
7. sometimes when the food is real freaky at lunch, we pretend vomiting together.
8. when days are real hard and nobody is listening and refusing to even sit in their chairs, i play waka waka on youtube and shakira does my teaching.

real life evidence:

          (normal occurrence whenever i pull out my camera)

so my kids are kinda wild. true.
but i absolutely don't mind because 1. i created them. and 2. because things like this happen just as often:

and my heart melts. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

home base: or where i spend my time if not at school or in the city.

the best kind of korean home base will include the following:

1. sleeping bag. to keep warm all hours of the day.
2. comfortable couch. to complete all business on (lesson planning, current events updating,  trip researching, and movie watching)
3. laptop. for said business.
4. clothes drying rack. because all home bases should be multi purpose.

that said, i've got a good thing going with my little flat. it may be freezing cold and sometimes lonely, but i like it. the only thing it's missing is a personal chef. but who wouldn't want one of those? and while I've started my christmas wish list, i may as well finish it. popcorn maker. segway. lifetime supply of peanut m&ms. shag carpeting. a puppy that doesn't eat and therefore doesn't poop. a leopard printed fake fur coat. electric socks. and world peace. if any of you guys have access to any or all of these wish list items,  help a girl out!!! and thanks in advance.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

oh, no big deal. ONLY THE LAST TOTAL ECLIPSE UNTIL 2014.

VIA CNN: "asia, western coast set for celestial treat."
that's right baby. screw goo goo cone ice cream, i got a CELESTIAL treat tonight! courtesy of my lady SUSIE!

sitting on my balcony, dressed head to toe in my winter clothes, zippered inside my sleeping bag, with my floor to ceiling windows wide open, experiencing my first total lunar eclipse. magical.

ps- found orion's belt. surprisingly comforting that my favorite constellation can be seen from both homes.

winter has turned me into a green bearded monster.

it was so damn cold outside today my lips got cold. think about it. when was the last time that your LIPS, specifically your lips, were cold? well here in korea, all past experiences are defied! what started as a handy neck warmer has developed into an even handier neck, nose, AND lip warmer.  i felt a little like santa claus wearing my scarf like this. but a swamp santie claus, with a beard made of algae. tis' the season ya'll. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

snow day, baby!!

got the day off from school and spent it doing some winter exploring in sokcho. 
(view of sokcho and the seoraksan national park behind it)

(i must admit, i was a little apprehensive packing these babies all the way to korea, but holy moly. they have proved their weight in gold.)

(view from my balcony) that's the family mart that i buy milk and ice cream from! and the little box with people inside outside middle brick building is my bus stop going to sokcho!)

korean winter observations so far:
1. there are two options for snow removal. GIANT tractor with plows attached out front or armies of locals with hand shovels. it's nuts. in goseong (where i live) you would see the giant tractors pushing snow through tiny roads. i was sure that they would clip houses and cars. but apparently these korean snow plowers are quite skilled. in sokcho (medium sized city south of goseong) it seemed like there was an army of locals shoveling the snow. even random people with shopping bags would be carrying shovels and move snow when it got in their way. 
2. koreans wear these slippers EVERYwhere. and even winter storms and inches of snow don't phase them. i saw THREE people today wearing them with a pair of socks. NUTS.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


so apparently the entire student body at dong gwang left today to play golf...... but it all worked out because they left me with bada and su bin. once discovering this lucky, lucky situation, i promptly pulled out my deck of cards and taught them how to play speed. after each match, they would squeal, "ONE MORE TIME!! ONE MORE TIME!"the next two hours quickly developed into a sharing sesh of magic card tricks and a newfound love/obsession for speed. good day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWILIGHT = equally cheesy/terrifying/hamball/scary and hilarious

              saw me some twilight baby!! 
11th floor movie theatre brownstone style with cheesy popcorn and million dollar reclining seats.

9,000 won for ticket, 4,000 won for popcorn

pretty good soundtrack. shirtless jacob.

most terrifying moments:
bella giving birth. (HOLY SHIT). bella cracking her back in half and breaking her kneecap. the cgi baby that jacob imprints on.

what stephanie meyer did right:
holy moly bella looked legitimately disgusting when her baby was eating her alive. the bony limbs and the shrunken face. ew.

hottest man on screen:

worst wedding dress:
bella's nipple triangle jester dress.

downer moment:
koreans sushing me because i was laughing/woo-hoo-ing at the nakey jacob times and the beginning scene. GOSH.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NEWEST (and quickest lived) OBSESSION.

most people don't have 7-8-9 hours of free time every night to do whatever the hell they want with. advantages of teaching in korea? well i have those hours of free time. and last week i got a little crazy. here's how it went:

taught english at school.
went home.
ate dinner.
and then read until i went to bed (on average 2-3AM) with mini breaks of apple eating and hot chocolate making.

im a total sucker for a good story, and holy hell. the hunger games brought me back to the glory days of HP where i would stay up ridiculously late reading for days on end, and not even be remotely phased.
and yes, i read all three books in 5 days. 
and no, i don't care that apparently young adult science fiction is my thang.

weekend update.

went to seoul this weekend for some final planning for our THAILAND/CAMBODIA/PHILIPPINES trip. yeah, that's right. glorious southeast asia backpacking. i am outrageously excited. ah ah ah ah. 
got some work done but were easily distracted by Skype. :) cheeseballs. 

under construction:

leave it to korea to come up with a much better looking alternative to tarps and orange construction cones.

delicious sam-gap-sal. aka: korean BBQ! ps- these weren't cooked yet. i always try to document the progression of cooking, but am so easily distracted by eating it instead. 

subway adventures.

ALSO. saw the newest TWILIGHT. seoul style. review to come soon. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm sorry real life grandma.

the second i saw monkey today in the hallway he poked my belly and said "fat panda."......huh? it took a good 5 seconds for me to get over the belly poking and realize what he said. FAT PANDA? dah hale? this was not a one time occurrence. when the lunch ladies gave me a monstrous serving of rice, he laughed, raised his eyebrows and said it again. "fat panda." in the way that said 'maybe i said it earlier as a joke, but now, it is most definitely true and therefore sticking forever'. he sits across from me at the table and watches me. chopsticks down. chin rested on hand. i try to pick up pineapple tofu with my chopsticks (really difficult) and i fail miserably. i try a couple more times. and then he says it again. "fat paaaanda?" like oh, poor baby! fat baby panda can't use her chopsticks. so sad and pathetic. i amuse him by stuffing my cheeks to the brim with rice. han teacher gives me a weird look. things have calmed down until we are leaving the cafeteria and monkey grabs my water bottle and yells "faaaat paaandaaaaa" while running away. i give up all allusions of professionalism and yell the only insult i know in korean at him.


(korean translation: grandma.)

he runs away giggling. i obviously have lost all control.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

adorably impractical.

so there's this beautiful korean woman that works at the bank by my school. she wears this smart blue blouse and doesn't wear any makeup besides bright red lips.  i think she's gorgeous. i've had to go to the bank a couple of times (getting my bankbook, withdrawing money, paying for fedex, etc) and every single time she goes out of her way to help me and is so genuinely kind.

 i stopped by today to pay my gas bill. she was looking as good as ever. she was so adorable last time teaching me her name, (ihm wah chill 임 화 칠) which i learned is typically a man's name, and it made me like her even more. so i walked into the bank today and said "anyehhahseyo ihm wah chill" and she about died. she helped me pay my bill and then gave me her business card and circled her mobile number and put her fake hand phone to her ear mimicking a phone call. "neigh?" i busted a gut and said "NEIGH!!!"

i giggled the entire way home. she speaks about as much english as i speak korean. BUT IT WAS JUST SO SWEET! i imagined how our conversation would go over the phone.  and then i thought that maybe i could make google translate tell her what i wanted to say. but then how in the hale would i ever understand what she said back?? i guess we are doomed to being mimes together. which is totally okay with me.