Monday, May 31, 2010

monday again. i'm exhausted from a wonderful, but full weekend! we obviously don't celebrate memorial day here, but we still get a 4-day work week! woohoo! wednesday is election day here so there is no work or school. i'll take a midweek break anyday. and next week, we have monday off. i'm not sure why. i have more 4-day work weeks than 5-day. thanks korea!

i was really busy all last week meeting with all kinds of people. one night i met a KNU english major to help with an assignment. he had to interview a foreign teacher/professor in english. the next night, i went out to dinner & coffee with one of my teachers. she wanted to take me out for my sweet! we had a really great time together. the next night, i met with a KNU student who is going to america in the fall. he will be at SNU next semester and knows no one there! i would be scared out of my mind. fortunately, my dear friend and former college roommate, ashley, lives about 3 steps from SNU campus with her college pastor husband, brandon. so i've been glad to help seong-kyu make a connection there. the nazarene world gets smaller and smaller every day...

on friday, i was able to meet with my dear missionary friends before they take off for another year in india. i've only met with them a handful of times over the past couple of months, but they have been really special to me and i am sad to see them go. they treated me to another dinner and we were able to spend some time together before they head back to india this friday. there is discussion of my taking a possible trip there this august to visit. if all works out, it would be wonderful! if not, do you all have suggestions of good vacation spots on this side of the world? maybe you honeymooned or took a family vacation somewhere in asia? looking for good suggestions of awesome destinations. your two-cents would be much appreciated!

after dinner, song-hoon and i were reunited for some much-needed teatime. it'd been a long time since i had seen him because he has been so busy studying and really sick from his fast. i'm glad to report that, while not back to 100%, he is recovering well and has started back on "normal," solid foods! he lost a lot of weight and looks pretty sickly, but hopefully he will fatten up soon. his english has improved remarkably quick and i am amazed at how diligent he is in studying. he told me that he plans to study 10 hours/day during the summer. 10 HOURS per day. and i have no doubt that he will follow through with that plan. he sort of inspired me to stop being so lazy with my korean studies...hopefully i will follow through! he & i never seem to run out of things to talk about and on friday, he told me i could address him as "oppa" or "older brother" in korean. an honor! our teatime turned into a 3+ hr long ordeal which ended in his mad sprint to the bus stop to catch the last bus of the night. hahaha. we plan meet again this week to continue our chat.

on saturday, i hopped on the subway with another foreign teacher, david, to head to seoul. we heard of a place there that serves american-style breakfast, and knew we had to experience it for ourselves. on the 2.5 hr trip north, i began to wonder if it was really worth it. then we got there, and "butterfinger pancakes" did NOT disappoint. i got this ginormous platter that came with 2 waffles, like a dozen scrambled eggs, the best homefries i've ever tasted, bacon, & 2 different types of sausage! what the heck?! david got this awesome sausage/egg/cheese biscuit that was enormous, and some dessert pancakes - chocolate chocolate chip with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream & 2 scoops of cookies & cream ice cream. i took one bite and had my fill of sweets for the day. needless to say, we were rolling out of that place and didn't eat again on saturday. also - we will be back!! :)

on sunday, i got to go to my korean church for the first time in too long. for various reasons, i have been unable to go since earlier this month. so after lunch yesterday, they pulled out this awesome birthday cake for me! what in the world?! they are so sweet. 3 weeks after the fact, and we are still celebrating! the cake was delicious and it was great to be back with some of my church family. they take really good care of me!

without being able to go into much detail, things at work have been tough lately, so please keep that in your prayers! i've also been sick on and off and unable to find enough time/quiet to get the sleep that my body is so desperately craving. keep me in your thoughts. i'd better go run some copies before my next class comes in...everyone take care & keep in touch!

Monday, May 24, 2010

monday is here again. it's rainy, cold, & depressing here in SK, but as i gathered pictures to share with you on the blog, my day got a little better. i'm really, really thankful for all of the opportunities i have to travel and explore and see new things while i am here. i know it's the chance of a lifetime and i am infinitely grateful. even though there are still good and bad days, i count my blessings for the time i have here.

that said, i'm back to work after another long weekend. i am so spoiled here that it kills me to have to work a full 5-day week. hahaha. it seems SO loooooong. i swear we have more holidays and long weekends than normal weeks. anyways, on friday our entire program took a cultural trip to icheon. here's a group shot: it was about a 2-hr bus ride each way from cheonan, but we had a good day overall. we visited a pottery museum and tried our hand at making some of our own. i was the ultimate failure, but some of the other teachers really showed us how it's done. i was impressed. we ate lunch there and visited a famous park in the city. while we were at the park, a woman and her husband came up to me and asked in korean where we were from. i responded, in korean, that we were from america but worked as teachers in cheonan. in perfect english, she replied "oh i'm sorry! how are you enjoying korea?" it's always such a pleasant surprise to meet a korean with a level of english sufficient for carrying on a normal conversation. we had the most pleasant discussion about teaching and korea, and they suggested other places in icheon we might want to visit. it was probably my favorite part of the entire day. i have met so many genuinely sweet people here in this country. i love walking away from a first meeting with a smile on my face.

on saturday, soo-in met me for an american breakfast. it was SO good. i made her chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs, and she was in heaven! soo-in supplied the fruit, so we had grapes and kiwi and cherry tomatoes. hahaha. in korea, they love cherry tomatoes and eat them just like they would oranges or grapes. i wish i had a picture of our huge spread, but we were too hungry and devoured it all. sorry. we have heard rumors of a place in seoul that serves american breakfast, so there is a chance that i will be making a trip there next weekend! :) i never realized how much i cherished pancakes and eggs until i came here. for koreans, there's no real distinguishing between breakfast/lunch/dinner. for every meal you eat something like rice, kimchi, side dishes, etc. there are no specific breakfast foods like waffles or french toast or hashbrowns. i miss it!!

my friend andy recently edited some pictures from a trip we took to independence hall several weeks back. independence hall is a sort of memorial filled with korean history. the admission was free and the place was amazing...filled with beautiful exhibits. i felt like i was inside of a national geographic magazine or something. here are a few of his awesome shots:

and, of course, our band shot. hahaha.
this week will be full of visiting with korean friends. tomorrow, a teacher from my school is taking me to dinner for my birthday. 2 weeks after the fact, and the celebration continues. hahaha. these people are too, too sweet. on friday, i will get to have one last dinner with my missionary friends before they return to india for another year. :( it's really sad because i am not sure if/when i will be able to see them again. i've known them a short time but they are near and dear to my heart. i am really looking forward to spending a few hours with them before they leave.

i hope that all is well back in the states. as always, i'd love to hear from you. leave a blog comment, stop by my facebook, or drop me an email at everyone take care and enjoy your week! :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

:::edited 5/24/10:::

more birthday party pictures!

:::end edit:::

i'm sitting at work on monday afternoon thrilled, but exhausted from a wonderful birthday weekend. i'm a seriously lucky girl to have a ton of awesome friends. my birthday was this past friday, and i had no major plans, which was completely fine with me. i love planning parties for other people on their special days, but i get really awkward when people make a big deal about me, so i was content. on thursday, soo-in asked me to have dinner with her on friday evening to celebrate, and i thought that sounded perfect. little did i know that she was just trying to throw me off the scent. she and a couple of my other really close friends had been conspiring all week to throw me a big DOUBLE surprise birthday bash on friday night. they worked tirelessly every evening planning and organizing and spreading the word, and they managed to pull it off. i was totally surprised (x2!) and the whole evening was awesome.

they broke into my room and totally trashed it - meaning there were homemade decorations hanging everywhere from the ceilings and walls and about 100 balloons floating around. and everyone made me homemade bday cards - my favorite! about 15 of us went out for an awesome dak galbi dinner and they had ordered a killer cake from a local bakery. then we all played a few intense rounds of one of my favorite games - telephone pictionary. if you're not familiar with it...look it up. you won't regret it. always good for a hearty laugh...or a hundred. it's hilarious! i was exhausted by the end of the evening, but so thrilled to have a great evening with some of my friends. huge thanks to john and soo-in and ben for working their butts off to make the evening so successful! i didn't personally take any pictures from the party (by now, you shouldn't be surprised) but a lot of other people did. once i can get my hands on them, i'll update the post with a few shots.

yesterday, john & i decided to travel to seoul for a huge festival that was taking place. we spent ALOT of time on the subway. this friday is buddha's bday (an official holiday here in korea...everyone gets the day off work) so we visited a few of the traditional temples that were all decked out for the occasion. they were really, really beautiful.there were a million of these paper lanterns everywhere you looked. so pretty.then we went to a huge lotus lantern festival and ended the evening with a ginormous paper lantern parade. it was extravagant and awesome, but we were seriously exhausted. i took these few pictures with my point and shoot, but john captured some awesome shots with his canon. once they are edited and ready to be unveiled you can see them here first! :)

so it was pretty much my favorite korean birthday weekend ever. i was exhausted by the time we got off the subway after 11pm and had to get up for work @ 6:30 the next morning, but it was 100% worth it! :) this friday, all of the teachers in my program will be taking a cultural trip to icheon, a historic city about 2.5 hrs from us by bus. more to come on that next time!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

sorry it has been a little while. i guess time flies when you're having fun! speaking of...i am going on 4 MONTHS of living in korea. my mind cannot fathom it. i'm almost 1/3 of the way through my did that happen?!

since the last post, i was able to enjoy a long 5-day weekend. it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. i spent the time with new and old friends, got some shopping done in seoul, slept a lot, watched some korean dramas, and enjoyed the weather. it made it infinitely harder to get out of bed monday morning, but it was so worth it.

i had a ridiculous experience last weekend. but not really all that ridiculous because these things happen to me all the time...just a day in the life! i was watching a movie with some friends in one of the dorms on campus, when i suddenly hit a wall and knew i needed to get to my bed asap before i passed out. i said my goodbyes and slipped out the door and down the elevator to the first floor. at KNU, there is a mandatory 10:30 curfew every night. (yes - 10.30pm. i never want to hear another american college student complain about midnight curfew!) i'm really not used to it, so i was surprised when i went to walk out the main doors and they were locked. i stood there trying to figure it out for awhile, when the guard came in from outside. i thought maybe i could just sneak out the door before it closed behind him, but he was having none of it and slammed the door shut in my face. i jumped back in surprise and he gave me this mean look like "hey you dumb student. stop trying to sneak out. go back up to your room." i sighed because i knew i was in for a long ordeal & i was way too tired to deal with it. i told the guard (in korean) that i was an english teacher from america and that i didn't live in that dorm, so i needed to get out. he looked at me like "do you think i'm an idiot?" and kept grunting at me and shaking his head. i kept trying to explain and he kept getting really irritated with me. finally i spoke to him in english, even though i knew he didn't understand a word of it. he did an about face when he heard that i spoke without an accent, and i knew that he realized i wasn't lying. he instantly became the nicest guard ever and escorted me to the door, waving goodbye to me the whole time. i was frustrated and relieved and tired and laughing all at the same time. hahaha. oh korea!

a friend of mine is a professor at KNU & she connected me with one of her students in the rehabilitation major at the university so i could learn a little more about the program. i got to meet up with hyun-soo yesterday for a little tour of the department. i was amazed in many ways. first of all, hyun-soo broke his finger yesterday morning playing basketball, but didn't want to cancel on me so he showed up with his left arm in a cast up to his elbow. i felt terrible! secondly, he gave me the entire schpeel in english...while on pain meds! i couldn't believe it. he kept apologizing for his "poor english," but i was amazed at his level. conversational english is one thing, but technical things related to rehabilitation facilities and equipment are another. i got a tour of the rehab engineering center where some of the prosthetic arms, legs, wheelchairs, etc. are actually made. the center has all kinds of expensive, high-tech assisted living technology for people of all types of disabilities and all ages. i couldn't believe all of the equipment that they had. i am really, really proud of KNU and the work they are doing in this area. of course, i didn't bring a camera. :/ but my professor friend got the same tour last year, so i stole a couple of her shots! thanks, jolie! =]
before i left the states, i was doing a serious workout regiment very faithfully. but since coming to korea, that has gone by the wayside. i think it's natural because i was fighting jetlag, learning a new culture, and just trying to get by for the first little bit. but now that the weather has gotten nicer and i've put on a million extra pounds from eating all of this rice, i've gotten serious about working towards better health. i've been walking to and from work and spending more time outdoors exploring (which has gotten me lost more than once. more on that another time). i've tried to cut back on my rice/rice cake/noodle intake and focus on making myself exercise more. i can already tell a difference in the way i feel...pray that i can keep it up!

i should go work on lesson plans for my saturday class that is coming up. everyone stay healthy and enjoy the springtime weather! and please remember the devastation that the city of nashville recently experienced with all of the flooding. visit to find out how you can help!

Monday, May 3, 2010

let me start this post by pointing your attention to the bad spot nashville, TN is currently in. the torrential rains of the past week or so have caused a serious flooding problem. there have already been a few deaths, and many families have lost homes and cherished possessions. the floods have caused enormous damage there. all of pictures are showing that the city is in a desperate situation. having spent 4 years in nashville, i consider it my second home. i have many dear friends who still reside there so this is quite disconcerting. please keep the tennesseans in your prayers and do what you can to help out with the relief efforts that are currently underway.

having that PSA out of the way, things are great here in korea. the past few days or so, we have seen spring finally taking shape. and it's about time...considering that we are now in the month of may! i absolutely cannot believe that i have been here over 3 months already. time is flying. this weekend i began teaching saturday school. it is a supplemental class that i have picked up to make a little extra money. the hours are great -- just 2 hours in the afternoon every other week. and the pay is tremendous! i really can't complain. so i got to meet a whole new batch of 5th and 6th graders this weekend, and got to answer all of the questions (for the millionth time) about how i can have a korean face, but speak only english. the kids are great, though, and i think we will have a lot of fun together. we spent the first few minutes of class assigning english names, and i allowed some of them the honor of taking the names of my good friends back in the states! :)

i am currently in an unparalleled good mood, as this will be a 2-day work week! in korea, may 5th is "children's day" and the 8th is "parents' day." everyone has the 5th off of work, but i happen to be particularly lucky, as my school decided we should cancel classes the 5/6/7/8. yes please! so i only work monday and tuesday. and when i came in this morning (monday), i found out all morning classes had been cancelled. hahaha. so this week, i will teach a whopping 4 classes. life is rough! ^^ to celebrate, i have the following on this week's docket: a pancake breakfast, a cinco de mayo celebration, a shopping trip to seoul, and a lot of sleep. like i said before - i have nothing to complain about!

my mind has been busy these past few weeks. like i have said before, my korea experience has really been challenging and stretching me. i get a lot of questions from my korean friends along the lines of - "is that common in america?" or "are all americans that way?" in some of the situations - i am embarrassed to give an honest answer! since coming here, i have had to look at my country through an outsider's eyes. some of what i see is shocking and sad. i think i have been desensitized to a lot during the past 22 years. whether the blame should be placed on mass media or other people or my own stupidity is irrelevant. the fact remains that there are some parts of america that i would prefer to not claim! this is not meant to be anti-patriotic or a bash of america so please don't get yourselves all worked up. it's just something that i have had to think about a lot lately. do ya'll have any thoughts on the subject?

i have mentioned before that my headteacher has asked me a lot of questions about the Bible and Christianity. i feel so ill-equipped to answer alot of the things she is asking, but i am trying to do the best that i can. today, she asked me if i thought that God provides only opportunities, or both opportunity and ability. then why bad things happen to good people. ay-ay-ay! please remember both of us as she seeks answers and i do my best to deliver.

off to lesson plan. everyone take care of yourselves and each other! community-minded korea has taught me a great about this. everyone be well!