Archive for the 'South Korea' Category

All you needed to know about living in Korea…

…is on YouTube!  My friend Kevin just sent me this YouTube video, made by a couple of English Teachers living in Korea.  This particular video covers the marvelous world of Korean snack foods (you know, those random bags of chips, cookies, and everything in between found at the local convenience stores).  It’s really funny and those who have lived in Korea can totally related.

 

The same creators have a whole series of these videos covering a host of random “living in Korea” topics.

I personally don’t know them – but I think their videos are great! And if you’ve got some time to kill (ahem…I know many English teachers out there do) – then check it out!

Happy hour(s) with my WaMu peeps

Met up with a number of my old WaMu Research co-workers the other night for a little reunion happy hour (or in this case hours as most of us stayed for several hours)It was so fantastic to see everyone (well everyone that could make it – there were quite a few who couldn’t come).  😦

It was part reunion, part welcome back for me, part welcome back for Julie (another colleague who just moved back to Seattle from Cali), and part farewell to Kevin (another colleague and my very first manager in the department – who happens to be moving his whole family out to…get this…South Korea!)

We had a great time seeing each other and catching up with what everyone’s been doing.  I think one thing we all felt was just how lucky we were to have worked in such a great department and with such great people.  Even after everyone got laid off and went their separate ways…we still are friends.  It’s a pretty unique situation and not easily found in most companies/departments/groups/etc. 😦

We were at Pike Place Brewery, which not only has some delicious “refreshments,” but also some amazing nachos (which are 1/2 off during happy hour!).  There were at least five plates of nachos ordered throughout the night.  They are damn good (and about a million times better than the nachos we once got in Korea).

nachos

Nachos from Pike Place Brewery.  Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese…mmmm.

 

Let’s compare that to the Korean nachos.

korean nachos

You’ve got about 10 individually dressed chips and a big ol’ pile of cabbage and mustard.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure there was mayonnaise on there too.

Hello U.S.A. – we missed you!

We are back ladies and gents!!!  We landed yesterday morning in Honolulu, Hawaii.  And due to such differing time zones, we flew out of Korea on a Thursday night…to land in Hawaii on Thursday morning! 

Got through immigration, customs…and got all our massive bags! 

 

Although I was feeling a little bit off from our flight…first things first: time to eat!!

Can’t decide between pizza or Mexican?  Get both!!  SOOOOOOOO yummy! 

After a bit of relaxing and unpacking – we then headed out to get Micah a new cell phone (I’m still deciding on what phone I want – so having one cell phone at the moment is good enough).

What did he decide?  

  

Ta da!  The Samsung Captivate (via AT&T)!  He went in thinking iPhone 4, but left the store with this hot little thing in his hands.  It’s pretty kickass and I’m considering getting one myself! 🙂

Plus, it’s a Samsung – yeah – shout out to South Korea!  🙂

 

After this trip, we literally crashed!  Jet lag had fully set in and we were zonked. 

We are in Hawaii for just over two weeks.  Here’s a rundown of what’s in store:

  • House chores – we are already creating a mini-list of things to do/fix around Micah’s mom’s house
  • Wedding crap…er…I mean stuff – meeting with all our vendors, checking out the wedding/reception site, cake/menu tasting, etc. etc. etc.  It’ll be busy.
  • MAUI!!!  Sunday – Tuesday we will be in Maui visiting our fellow teaching friends Gabe and Charissa.  It will be fun to see how their first few days of transition back to U.S.A. living has gone.  Plus, we were promised many delicious drinks and homemade Mexican food!
  • Football – We are heading to Aloha Stadium to watch USC take on UH in their first home game of the season. 
  • Birthdays!
  • Seeing our friends and family!!

Then, we head back to Seattle on Sep. 11th!!

Last day of Korean elementary school

Wow…it’s my last day being a Native English Teacher at Jincheon Elementary School.  I’ve been cleaning out my desk, recycling files, and writing a welcome note for the next Native Teacher who starts in a couple of days. 

It’s really surreal.  As the old adage goes, “time flies.”  And I think when you are living in a foreign country (and enjoying the experience), I think times flies even faster! 

My teachers are so cool.  I come to school this morning and they are waiting with a cake (an unexpectedly delicious sweet potato cake), matching couple’s t-shirts for Micah and me, and some awesome Belgium chocolates (from the P.E. teacher who just went to Europe for his summer vacation).  I am really going to miss them.

Although we come to Korea to help teach English to students…really, I feel I’ve been most beneficial to the Koreans who are more my age.  I can tell a dramatic difference in the English fluency and confidence of the teachers I sit with every day.  And I hope they can feel that for themselves as well. 

Micah and I have been ridiculously busy the past few days.  Packing, moving, dealing with administrative issues (to put it nicely), goodbye dinners, and even an overnight trip to Seoul to be instructors at an orientation session for new EPIK teachers.

We’ve been running around like crazy (hence lack of blog updates), and still will be running around like crazy for one more day…but then…we say goodbye. 

I can’t say it enough that this experience has been one of the best ever.   Annyeong!!

And….we’re back!

And then one week to go until we are really back (to the US that is).

Our 12 days of Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore were FANTASTIC!!!  (We especially loved Hong Kong and Singapore – seriously the two best places we have ever visited!)  We had such an incredible time sightseeing, relaxing, shopping, hanging out with friends, and of course…EATING!!!

I don’t have time now…and might not for a while to recap our adventures :-(  It’s surreal to think about us no longer living in this country…just one week from now. 

Micah and I are still debating about what we’d like to eat first when we touch down on US soil.  My pick: Taco Bell!!  Micah’s pick: pizza and poke’. 

The sound of summer

How do you know it’s summertime in Korea?  Well, yes…when you are sweating buckets and you haven’t even gotten out of bed in the morning.  Or just listen for the sound of the cicadas. 

Cicadas are new to me (not to be confused with locusts).  They don’t live in the Seattle area because it just isn’t hot enough.  So when we first arrived in Korea (almost one year ago – whoa!), we would hear the trees just buzzing with the LOUDEST sounds ever and were clueless as to what was making the noise.  Turns out that Korea’s hot hot summers are perfect for these huge, black, loud, and harmless bugs.

cicada

These things are huge…maybe 1.5 to 2 inches long.  And they look super freaky (I think).  Source: cicadamania.com

They feed off the trees and you don’t tend to see them flying around.  But you always know where they are because off their LOUD buzzing sound.  You get a whole tree going and it sounds like a thousand rattlesnakes rattling their tales.  And pretty much every tree in Korea is buzzing away during the summer. 

Some Most times it’s really annoying.  If I’m walking down a block that’s lined with trees, I can hardly hear myself think because it’s so ridiculously loud.  Fortunately, they are quiet at night (when it’s cooler). 

While I do find them annoying, I do appreciate that each tree full of cicadas seem to have this interesting synchronization ability.  For no apparent reason at all, hundreds/thousands of buzzing cicadas in the same tree will just pause – at the very same time.  It’s instantly quiet (and peaceful), and then a second or two later…it’s back to buzz-ness.  🙂

Check out this YouTube clip I found that can give you an idea of the noise they make.  Just amplify by 100…and that’s what we deal with on a daily basis. 

“Summer is like hell”

That’s what we were told by a Korean friend WAYYYYY back during the mind-numbing freezing winter months.  My reaction then, “Good…it’s too freakin’ cold.”

Let’s fast forward to now.  It’s hot.  It’s humid.  It’s sweltering.  It’s broiling.  It’s stuffy.  Yes, I often think – our Korean friend was absolutely right.

“Lucky” for those of us who live in Daegu, Korea – this city boasts the HOTTEST summer weather.  I think it has something to do with the geography or topography.  However, most of Korea is freaking hot…but Daegu tends to be at least 4 to 5 degrees hotter.

The past few weeks have been consistently in the 90s (Fahrenheit) and add in a few extra points for humidity – and some days you are topping 100F.  And it pretty much stays that way for the entire day.  The lows around here are in the upper 70s or low 80s. 

It was 11:30pm the other night…and still in the upper 80s. 

So needless to say, I’ve been a little lazy about updating my blog – well because I’m conserving my energy in this ridiculous heat.  It’s so hot that we haven’t left the comfort of our air-conditioned apartment – and that means I don’t have much to blog about.  Hot, oppressive weather makes for a lazy-blogging Lisa.

Update: More faux fitness training

So if you’ve been following along (if not, click here and here), you know that I’ve been pretending to be a fitness trainer – and have been teaching some of the Korean employees at our gym some hardcore workouts (via Bodyrock.tv).

I’ve done two more sessions this week – and each time – a new person has joined along.  It’s kind of fun. 

The workouts are short, but intense.  And they seem to be EXHAUSTED afterwards – which is what I’m shooting for -a Korean sweating (really sweating) at the gym…shocking, I know.  🙂

Here is our workout from Tuesday:

Six pack abs workout

  

And here is the workout we did on Thursday:

18 minute S&M workout (I had Micah do the explaining of what ‘S and M’ meant) 🙂

 

If you are even mildly interested – I encourage you to just check out the Bodyrock.tv site.  Click on ‘home workouts’ and watch some of the videos.  Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I will click on a new workout I’ve never done, watch the video – and that always gets me off my butt.  Remember, you don’t need a gym to do these workouts.  You don’t even need any special equipment.

I’m off to choose our workout for Saturday!

It took 6 months, but I finally got her to talk

I accomplished a HUGE goal the other week.  A goal – that I didn’t think I’d actually achieve – especially as the days ticked away towards the end of the school semester.  But finally…success!!

Let me explain:

I have a sixth grade girl who doesn’t talk.  She’s painfully shy.  I have never heard her even speak in Korean (and any of the teachers I talked with have never heard her voice either).  That is some serious shyness.  Oh…and yes, she is able to talk – she’s not mute or anything.

But, the teachers don’t ever force her to talk because, well, she does her work (non-verbal work that is) and she is never a discipline problem.  Her fellow students are also *surprisingly* quite understanding of her shyness.  They don’t tease her, or yell at her – they seem to just accept that she is one shy girl.  But believe me, these same students have no qualms yelling at the “dumb” kid or the fat kid – so whatever halos you were picturing in your mental image of my students – remove them immediately. 🙂

Even my lowest, lowest, lowest students can utter some verbal this or that at me.  They can at least spit some Korean my way.  But this girl…nothing.  If I even say “hi” to her, she immediately puts her head down. 

And this made me sad.  She’s the cutest little thing and I just couldn’t accept the fact that she was so shy that she couldn’t even say “hello.”  Actually, I believed that she wanted to say something, but she was too afraid.  So began my six month mission – starting in February: By the time I leave Korea, she will say something in English to me.

I knew it would take a long time.  And it was going to be baby steps…actually, baby-ier than baby steps. 

My approach was quite simple:

  • Every time I saw her, I would say “hello” and called out her name (this sometimes meant going up to her in the cafeteria during lunch just to say ‘hi’).  And I always said “bye” to her after every class.
  • Every now and then, I’d give her a piece of candy or a pencil – just because.
  • Smile…a lot. 

I wanted her to know that I was friendly and I never forced her to talk to me. 

A huge help came from a fellow classmate who speaks really good English.  This classmate noticed my effort and started to encourage the girl to try and talk to me…or at least wave back at me. 

Months and months and months…and very little progress.  Sometimes, she’d wave back to me…but only sometimes.

There were only two days left before the students were going on summer vacation.  I thought my mission was a big ol’ FAIL!  But, the girl and her classmate learned I was going home to America.  And *ding* – I think this was the motivation she needed. 

She had her classmate write me a letter in English saying how much she was going to miss me.  And that she was sorry she was so shy.  They delivered the letter to my office.  She still didn’t say anything to me, but I knew that she wanted to. 

The next day, I wrote her back a letter (a very simple letter) and included some chocolates with it to share with her classmate.  The look on her face when she saw it was unforgettable.  It was a cool moment. 

And later that day, she tracked me down – and after about five minutes of just waiting and looking at each other (actually she was looking at the ground) – she finally said “thank you.”  It wasn’t much more than a whisper, but I definitely heard it.  No other teacher in the school can say they’ve heard her speak an English word.

There we are.  The shy girl (in the blue/green shirt) and the very caring classmate.  She even said “bye” to me after we took this picture.

Is she now suddenly going to study English a lot and break free from her shell?  Doubtful.  But, my hope is that she gained just a teensy bit more confidence, and that she felt like someone really cared about her. 

I’ll only have two more chances to see these girls before we head home.  So…I’m curious to see if she will talk to me. 

Update: Our Korean gym workout date

A couple of posts ago, I talked about how our Korean gym employees wanted me to put them through one of the workouts they routinely see me doing at the gym.  Read the earlier post to see the type of workouts I do and the workout I chose for them.  Go BodyRock.TV!!

So Saturday morning, we headed to the gym.  Keep in mind, Micah and I went out for dinner and drinks with my co-teachers the night before.  Uh…let’s just say we weren’t in the best condition for doing a hardcore workout, but we pulled through.  🙂

Unfortunately, two of the guys didn’t show up.  But Min Hee, the one who was most excited about learning, she was there right on time.  I gave her a print out of the workout, along with pictures to describe each of the exercises. 

 

First, warm-up time.  Five minutes on the exercise bike. 

 

Walking her through the workout and how to correctly do each individual exercise.  I also showed her ways to make them a little easier in case they were too hard.

  

Burpees!  Her first time doing them.  Excuse the butt shot…ahem, Micah.

  

One leg dead lift, followed with a jump in the air. 

 

All in all, she did a really great job.  She was able to keep up the whole time.  She was super tired afterwards (as were we), but felt good about the workout.  Yeah…she was actually sweating…alot!

While we were doing side crunches, an older Korean woman came over and thought maybe I was teaching a class.  She plunked herself down along side us and started to try and follow along.  That lasted about uh…10 seconds and then she just watched…and then walked away.  Funny.

Oh, Micah did a great job too, considering he wasn’t planning on doing the entire workout (and he hadn’t eaten anything that morning).

Go Min Hee!!!

Micah – you’d never know he felt like throwing up right about now.

So Min Hee wants me to teach her more workouts.  So, time permitting, I’ll hopefully get to show her a few more different ones.  The difficult part is that her English is pretty limited, so it requires that I show her exactly what to do – rather than just relying on pictures and writing. 


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