Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birthday Party

At the end of the month there is always a birthday celebration for all the kids with birthdays that month at the school. We have a feast of cake and fruit and some traditional Korean foods; chapchae, dok and dokbokki. I really like chapchae, which is like these clear noodles with veggies and greens. It tastes a bit like a lo mein noodle. Then dok isn’t that bad either. It is apparently rice all smashed up and sticky with brown sugar and maybe cinnamon inside. They come in green, white and pink so the kids all wanted one of each color. Then there is dokbokki, which I was a little disappointed with because it looked a lot better than it tasted. It looks a little like solid penne noodles with red sauce, but I guess these are made out of smashed rice too. The kids have a very mild version, but usually it is made very spicy. The Korean teach brought me some of the real version, but when I came across the fishcakes I just got a bit grossed out. I didn’t realize these were made out of rice until I asked Ellen so for a while I thought I was eating squid and when I think about it I just can’t handle it so fishy.

The kids dress is traditional hanbok and everyone sings and then the kids blow out candles on the cake. Then each birthday kid goes up with like an escort of the opposite sex for pictures. I’m not sure what they are given to hold, but they each do it. Unfortunately, no one in my class has a birthday until June, so we didn’t really participate in the actual celebration. All the kids brought in small gifts, but the ceremony was done in Korean so I’m not sure what was done with the gifts.
Well, thanks to Jennifer, who told me the gift they give is a puzzle. All the Korean teachers have each kid draw a picture of themselves and they laminate it and make it into a puzzle of their class. Then each kid can put it back together. They are also they are given κΉ€ kim which is seaweed. The seaweed is said to keep you healthy and when women are pregnant they eat bowls of seaweed soup to restore their energy and health. You also eat seaweed soup on your birthday.

Rainbow class hamming it up for the camera.

These two are making origami stars. I'm impressed.

Melisa, John and Richard

John and Neoking

Melisa, John, Richard and Angelina

Kelley and Emily

Annie and Tomas

Seriously adorable - Shawn

This is the cute little Italian restaurant that Ellen and I went to for dinner.

Monday, March 28, 2011

uh huh uh huh uh huh

So, today was quite the day. For starters, my co-teacher quit her job. I can’t blame her though, they really worked her a ridiculous amount. The Korean teacher’s hours are 8:30am to 7pm, but they rarely actually get to go home at 7. Ellen told me there had been days she didn’t leave until 11pm due to meetings or other work they had them do. As if that isn’t bad enough they also have to work every other Saturday and not just for a few hours, they work 8:30am to 7pm on Saturday. I wish I knew what they could possibly be doing then. Luckily we will remain friends and now that she won’t be working all the time we might have some time to hang out. I talked to her today and she seemed really appreciative that I called and we made plans to meet up tomorrow evening.

To say the least it was really sad and difficult telling the kids that Ellen Teacher wouldn’t be coming back to class ever. I’m not sure if they really get it because Angelina kept saying she is only out for 1 day and will be back. We will see what will happen tomorrow. Luckily, I had one of the Korean teachers in the room with me for a lot of the day. His English isn’t nearly as good as Ellen’s though, so he wasn’t able to translate what the kids were saying as much.

Then at lunch Neoking, who if I were to give a superlative to him it would be “Most Likely to Get the Hell out of Korea”. He hates every kind of food. I really wonder what he eats at home because he hates soup, kimchi, anything green and rice; to name a few. He even hated those little hotdogs, which is what we had for lunch today. Well, at the start of lunch he threw up on the table cloth. It smelled horrible. I was gagging so much helping him clean it up I thought I was going to throw up as well. I told him to go wash his hands because looking at him made me gag some more.

So, other than that little incident it really wasn’t a terrible day and they are so cute so it makes up for it. I’d say it even makes cleaning up vomit not so awful, but I will tell you for sure in a few months.

I mean, how could you not love them?!

Here is the Samsan fire station. The building is pretty cool, it has sparkly blue doors!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Anguk and Insa-dong

A view off the Anguk subway stop.

Today was such a great day and now I like Korea even more! There is so much to see, so much to do and so much to eat! Thanks to social networking, I was able to join a Facebook group called ‘Discover Korea’. They invite you to various events around the country and this one was to visit the old style traditional Hanok villages. I met some great people on the trip and most people didn’t know anyone else before the trip so it was fun. I left my apartment pretty early because I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I actually arrived about an hour early and just walked around where the subway stop was before I met everyone. Most of the group was from the US, but one was from England, one from South Africa, one from Canada and a couple were from Korea.

Here is some of the group.

We first visited Unhyeongung palace. It was split up into the man area and the woman area. We were shown where they all slept and ate with some figurines. Above is Noandang where the men stayed. This palace was used during King Gojong’s reign and the name actually means a place where old men stay comfortably. This was his idea for the creation of the nation.

When King Gojong married Empress Myeongseong they used Norakdang to learn royal etiquette and have the wedding.

Then Irodang was built for the women.

Below is a kitchen 

This is Chinyeong costume which is worn at Garye, a wedding ceremony involving royal families.

We also saw Bukchon village and this beautiful house! It is modernized, but has the typical traditional structure and design. All the wood work was really amazing.

This is a guest house or hotel.

This bench is called 'Sharing a biscuit'

More of Bukchon

Seoul from the rooftops.

After, most of the group went to lunch at a typical Korean restaurant, which was really good.
After lunch we walked around In-sadong, which has a lot of traditional Korean gifts and souvenirs. It was really crowded because it is a tourist hotspot, but there was so much to see. At about 3pm most people were pretty tired so the group split off and I continued on with one girl who had been here for about a year and a half and she showed me more of Insa-dong.

Here is the only Starbucks in the WORLD that isn’t written in English. Starbucks wanted to put a shop in Insa-dong, but the area required the sign to be written in Hangul.

Those potato strings are so good! They cover them with parmesan cheese!

Leaving on the train.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24th

Yesterday Bella and I were the only ones that went to English teacher training. After, we took the subway home. It was my first time taking the subway here and I was very impressed with the Incheon line and told Bella how clean and nice it was. She said it was only because it was a new line and the next train wouldn’t be nice because it was older. I was expecting some kind of NYC train, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was still really nice and clean! Every stop is easily identifiable in both Korean and English so I’ll be able to take public transportation a lot. When we got to the station where we would transfer to the next line there was so much shopping. The 5,000 Won shoes are what caught my eye! Bella has seen this a million times and I know she didn’t want to wait so we just continued on.

A 3-D painting in the subway station

The transportation system here is pretty cool, not only in the fact that it is really cheap, clean and nice, but if you need to go from a bus to a train or vice versa the cost is cut down or free! Songnae station is the closest station to my apartment, but it isn’t walking distance so I can take a bus. After I paid 900 Won to take the train, when I swiped my T-money card it was only an additional 100 Won for the bus trip home. It would ordinarily be 900 Won for the bus as well as the train. Although, I have been told if you wait too long in between getting off one vehicle and onto the next they do charge you again. I just don’t know how long exactly you can wait.

Today, I decided to take the bus back to Songnae station to do some shopping. I know, I’m probably the only person who takes the bus to go shopping at the train station, but I knew how to get there and I wanted to shop. It was a really nice day and pretty warm when I walked to school, but by the time I got out it was cold and rainy. It still didn’t stop me from shopping so I took the bus to Songnae station.

Now, Songnae station is a pretty big and crowded station and I was there when probably most people were leaving work and rushing home, but I still managed to make my way around the station. I bought some accessories; scarves, earrings, headbands, socks and some tomatoes outside at a stand. Yes, I realize everything is plural, but I couldn’t help myself!

I mean how could I resist these ‘kissing socks’ for 1,000 Won! J

We got some of that icky un-spring like weather as well. I woke up to some snow dusting on the mountain tops.

Cool side walk in the park.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22nd

Well, today is Tuesday and I really don't have anything to say. Google on my laptop has switched over to Korean. As much as I use Google, I am still struggling to navigate things like the image search and the maps. I tried soybean milk for the first time. I can't say if I like it or hate it yet, but I needed to try it because the kids have it as their morning snack a lot and they make it look good. At lunch I avoided the seaweed and the kimchi like the plague and my co-teacher laughed at me. A bunch of the kids were complaining that the meat was too spicy, so I think overall this lunch was not a success. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow's is better! Ok, enough about lunch, here are some pictures.