Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not in Shape

4-6 The next morning I woke up and watched The Butler VS. Michigan St. game and was pleased to see that Butler won! Once Steve got ready we walked down the street and started my first hike in Korea! Hiking in Korea is basically the national sport and you can tell as everyone is decked out in serious hiking gear. We hiked up a ways an sadly I'm Terribly out of shape and didn't make it too far, but we did make it to the first lookout. Definitely not used to seeing this many people hiking. Here bring a spread with them on their hike as well and have a whole meal at the top while also drinking Soju, etc. After our hike we grabbed a pizza and chilled at Steve's before heading to take me back to the bus station.
I hopped back on the bus at the Dongseoul bus terminal and slept most of the way back to Ildong. Once i was back in Ildong I just hung out and got ready for the school day in the morning. Monday was a big day at the school as the Vice Principal spoke in front of the entire school at the beginning of the day and she spoke of where I came from, my family, especially my nine year old sister Allison. After she finished I spoke about myself for a couple minutes, touching mainly on my hobbies and where I had lived. On Mondays I teach 5 classes and with my 6th grade class we sang Hey Jude and Yesterday by the Beatles. In a surprise I had to stand up and sing in front of the class for both songs! The kids were very excited for me to sing, nice, more pressure.
We had a lot of fun though and I was exhausted after school and I hooked up the dvd player and watched Pirates of the Carribean that I borrowed from school and for dinner I had Sushi with soy sauce and some Pepsi. Tuesday is just as busy as Monday with 5 more classes the most fun during today was by far the 1st graders learning to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". We taught Old Mcdonald to the 5th graders and it was a great day again. i've been playing around on Facebook since and writing too while chilling to the Avett Bros. bomi has a teacher's meeting until 4:30 so I'm going to try and post on the blog again. After work we're having dinner with other English teachers in Idong, which is a town about 20 minutes from Ildong. It will be nice to meet others teaching in the area.


4/4 I'm in Ildong after an exciting weekend in Seoul and Hanam and I am exhausted. On Friday I walked over to the bus terminal to find Steve and it was funny as he was frustrated in trying to find my place. You see, it's not too difficult to find the town you are trying to get to; However, the streets are very difficult in learning where people live, etc. It's best to just remember landmarks or have people meet you at an easily identifiable spot. we walked down to my apartment and I showed Steve the place and we drank a little Makgeolli and caught on what was going on in our lives. After talking a while we decided to go out and grab some dinner. We picked a restaurant at the end of my street. I was excited as this was going to be my first meal out in Korea.
It was kind like you see in the movies where there's a small table and you sit on a pillow with your legs crossed. We ordered the beef (Bolgi) and wow what a feast. You get beef, mushrooms, lettuce, Kimchi (Of course), and several other veggies and sauces. In the middle of the table is a grill where the food is cooked. Once cooked you take the beef and mushrooms and put them on the lettuce as well as any other veggies, sauces you desire and shove it in your mouth. The lady running the restaurant showed me how it was done by shoving one in my mouth! For drink we had water and also shared a bottle of Soju which is a sweet potato "vodka" that you take in shots. It is very much the custom to drink at every meal in Korea and you are not suppose to pour your own drink or allow someones glass to remain empty. Drinking is viewed much differently here than in the western world and like anything in Korea there are rules to drinking. For one, you never pour your own drink; two, you usually hold your glass with two hands when receiving a drink. When pouring for another person you pour with one hand and place the other hand on your chest almost underneath the opposite arm pit. Another custom is not drinking directly in front of elders, as you would turn to the side.

After finishing our meal, we paid and it was only 10,000(~$10) each, not too bad. Afterwards we decided to try the karaoke bar next door and the language barrier set in as there was confusion in trying to get a beer! Finally, we sat down and ended up drinking 5 beers between the two of us and paid our bill of 20,000 Won, which was a bit high for 5 beers according to Steve. The next morning we ate ate Lotteria which is basically a rip off of Mcdonald's and they are everywhere in Korea. I got the same as Steve and it was a burger with special sauce, yellow pepper, tomato, bbq sort of sauce, pickles and the burger came with fries and a drink for 5,700 Won. Next we bought our tickets to the Dongseoul bus terminal and we nearly missed our bus. One the ride in I was able to see more of the countryside and the skyscraper apt complexes. When we got off the bus it was like a whole new world as I had really only been in Ildong up to this point and now I was in Seoul with millions of people! I noticed a sign on the bus ride in that read "Since 1462", I'm not in Kentucky anymore for sure. we stopped at Techno Mart which is somewhat of a huge department store and it has everything, including Reebok Pumps and the building is 12 stories high. We decide to hop on the subway and visit a Buddhist Temple in the NW part of the city. The subway in Seoul is the largest subway system in the world is very packed and very clean. The Buddhist Temple is absolutely spectacular visually and spiritually and we stepped into the main building to witness everyone praying and the monk chanting and playing the drum. We stood in awe of this event and the three large bronze Buddha statues in the center of the temple. As we were leaving Steve mentioned you can spend the night in a temple, robes and all, thus adding to the list of things I must do while here.
Next, we walkedd down the street and decided to eat and stopped at NY Hotdog & Coffee ;It's interesting to see Korean's take on American ways. Afterwards we caught the subway again and headed toward Hanam, home of Young Steven. This trip took some time as Hanam is a bit outside Seoul and we also were on the other side of the city. Towards the end of the subway ride we crossed the Haan river which bisects Seoul and there you can see the bride with the Olympic torch on one side of the subway and the Olympic Stadium on the other, from where Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics. Once we got off the subway we caught a bus which was quite crazy with the traffic; stop and go for over an hour. However we made it to Hanam and Steve gegan showing me his city. We walked around for a while and grabbed a pizza and while waiting for the pizza sat in a tent, which are very prevelant, and had a couple beers and rice popcorn. Once the za's (for Ben Marks) were done we headed over to Steve's apt and what a stark difference from my apt building, as his building is 15 stories high and his on the 14th floor.
We relaxed on his couch and enjoyed our 'za from Pizza School and watched some Steven Seagal, who is evidently really big in Korea! I used his internet a little after eating to get caught up with the rest of the world. Late we headed to a bar to meet other English teacher and it was great to meet people doing the same work as me. I met 3 guys, 2 of whom were from Texas and the other from England. We talked about where we were from and about our jobs here in Korea. Later in the evening I was introduced to a Dragonball, which is a shot glass of coke, shot glass of Soju, drop them in a glass, add beer and chug! It's a quite tastey drink and the last thing you taste is the sweet taste of Coke.
After the bar Steve and I stopped for dumplings (Mandu) which were delicious and only $4. We decide to grab a cab home as we both were exhausted plus it was only 3,000 Won total. In the cars they have these large screen and they are navigation systems as well as tvs and many people watch tv as they drive! Once we were back to his apt I decided to stay up a while and check out things on the internet, Hopefully, I can get caught up soon in my journal and get it all in this blog. 'Til next time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


4-1 Ok, so tonight has been an interesting night. I finally decided to open the Kimchi that I bought. With it I sauteed some onions and hand a bottle of H20; sadly I did not make it through all of the Kimchi as the quantity I pulled out was too much and I'm still gettin used to the texture. It certainly cleared up my sinuses on a good note. After I washed the dishes the bell rang which is actually a chirping sound. At the door was Bomi and my landlord and they came in and we talked. The LL took the cable box that was left from the last teacher and Bomi said I'd have a new one next week! Then Bomi said she would pick me up at 8:30 in the morning for school and we'd figure out the bus I'll be taking.
She said we'll have an hour to prepare the lesson for the day, which is great b/c I wasn't sure what to teach yet. We have classes tomorrow and on a really cool note I can go to class on 2 Saturdays a month for extra vacation days! Also tomorrow we'll be getting my results from the hospital, getting the ID card ordered, looking for a blanket, etc. I'm thinking of going to bed already and it's only 7:55pm.
4/2 So, it's the big day; my first day of teaching in Korea. Bomi picked me up at 8:30 and we headed to school. We have an hour before class so I get on Facebook and chat with a few people and respond to messages as well. For the classes I ended up showing them my video from Montana and they really loved it especially the Bison! I also showed them my video at RDI doing our breakdancing routine, they were impressed. We also watched Allison's Christmas play from 2nd grade; I knew that she would love knowing that. I chatted on FB throughout the with dad and friends and even listened to a little music on you tube, a little Black Stone Cherry and Eddie Vedder.
I was able to score a dvd player but sadly I forgot that their dvds and players are coded for region 3 and so the dvds I brought the the States will not work here. I will have to pick up a few dvds here to watch. After school we came to my apt to get my receipt from the hospital and drove to Pocheon and once we arrived at the hospital we didn't have the proper quality picture, so we drove to a photo mart and got my picture taken. After getting the copies of my picture we went back to the hospital and got my stamp for health assesment, yeah I'm healthy! From there went about 40 min to another town to apply for my ID card. There we gave them my money and passport and we raced back to Ildong as Bomi had a dinner party to attend. Now I'm back in Ildong and I bought my 1st bottle of rice wine, a coke and some beef jerkey. Hear in a minute I'm heading to the bus station to greet Steve and I'm excited to see a familiar face.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April Fool's

(4-1) I guess April's fools was on me this morning as I rose at 6:30ish and couldn't get back to sleep. Of course I starting nodding off last night around eight and I'm sure that helped with my early waking. I slept well even though I still woke up every couple of hours. I had another bowl of cereal this morning and of course I've been playing Yahtzee. I've lit my candle I bought and I'm thinking about taking a walk later and maybe grab a drink. I've opened my bedroom window and as I write I'm listening to the birds converse on this foggy, misty morning. I think I'll do a puzzle. So, I decided to lay down and work on a puzzle and I fell asleep for a couple hours. I laid around for a while and finally I took a shower and walked over to the main road. Thought I'd go to Family Mart, and grab a drink and a snack.

On the way to the store I see my LL and we exchange waves; Bomi tells me the LL like it that I wave and smile at him when I see him in town! Once in the store the clerk surprises me with a "Hello" and then asks if I'm an English Teacher and where. I tell her that I am an English Teacher and at Undam Elementary School. After walking around a bit I settled on a Coke and Cheetohs. Walking out the lady says "Bye Bye" and I reciprocate. I would walk around like yesterday but it's raining and I decide to head back to the apt. Now that I'm back I've been doing the same as the past two days, puzzles and yahtzee. I'm going to work on what I'll teach in my first day. I believe I'll try to teach them about me and things that I enjoy. I'd love to show them my Montana Video too. I'm actually nervouse b/c I'm not sure exactly when to be at school or how to get there. I'm not sure how to get on the right bus but I'm sure I'll figure it out. Well, off to work on my lesson plan.

On a surprising note I opened my Cheetohs while playing yahtzee, in which I finally broke into the 400's (421), and noticed that they looked different. I realized in the store there were several flavors, but I thought I'd but original. After opening the bag I looked on the front and noticed it said Barbeque and had a picture of a steak over a BBQ pit. I will definitely be purchasing these in the future as they are delicious. For class I've decided to write about me, my family, hobbies, foods, etc. I've also been thinking about my bday which is a week from this Saturday on the 10th. So, I've declared that I shall start celebrating my bday when the 1oth starts here and not stop until it ends back home some 38 hours of celebration! Maybe I will go see Steve in his town next weekend for that.

Yahtzee and Sudoku

(3-31) It's interesting being here in Ildong, Korea. It's not a bad thing but I'm not used to no roommate, no phone, no internet, and no tv, especially right now when I know a total of two people in all of Ildong. Bomi was sick today and we didn't go to school, which is somewhat dissapointing as school is my only way to connect right now with the outside world! It was funny as the Landlord came up so Bomi could tell me that she would not be picking me up today and we tried to communicate and I did get that he was asking me how I liked the heated floors. In Korea, the heat comes from the floor under the mats they put down that make it look like wood flooring, it's definitely different than what I used to but pretty neat. Afterwards I decided to cook lunch in which cut up some mushrooms and an onion. It was actually more of a snack than lunch, but I enjoyed it. I then went back to where I've spent most of my time these first few days, Electronic Yahtzee and Sudoku puzzles!

Around 12:30, I needed to stretch my legs and got dressed to go for a walk. It was raining so I through on my jacket and Voyagers hat! I made certain to pay attention as this was my first time out alone and I did not want to get lost. I thought about getting a dvd if not too expensive and saw a store where they sell/rent them and may try it out later. While out I walked a ways up and down the main strip checking out the shops. I stopped at the big grocery store and bought a coke, water, and a bowl for my cereal. I was proud as I knew how to pay for things now and I had my 1st purchase on my own. I took my stuff home and put the bowl in the sink to wash, sipped on the coke and then put it and the water in the fridge.

After playing Yahtzee for a while, I grew tired of it and decided to explore my new town some more. I took my camera this time so I could snap a few shots of town. I walked in the direction of my school first and took pics of the bank and the grocery I visited earlier today. After about 1 mile I turned around and walked a couple miles the other way. I took a few more pics including one of a Presbyterian Church; there are a lot of Christians in Korea and I've been told it is right there with Buddhism as the main religion. I then came back to the apartment and resumed my Yahtzee and puzzles. I hope we can go into Seoul tomorrow and I can get a dvd player or charger for my Ipod. I also want some tacs to hang up my Montana poster and WKU flag. I'm excited also for Steve's visit this weekend, hopefully we can catch up and explore a bit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting acclimated to my surroundings

So, I have now slept in my apartment one night and it's not too bad, especially considering I don't have a blanket or regular pillows, just the ones from the love seat. I originally woke up at 8:30 this morning and hung around the apartment playing electronic Yahtzee and worked on a Sudoku puzzle, completing my first in Korea. I fell back asleep for a while and got back up around 11:15 to iron my clothes as my co-teacher Boomi was picking me up at Noon to see the school and meet everyone. Once we were at the school I truly felt like a rock star as the kids were all saying hi, waving, and wanting to shake my hand! We had lunch in the cafeteria which consisted of Kimchi, spinach, and Pork as the appetizers and rice and soup which are the main course, always. I very pleased that I really enjoyed the lunch. I wasn't worried about finding enough to eat here as it is a meat eating country, I was just worried a little about the spicy food and so far so good.

After lunch we checked out the the room in which I will be teaching in during this year. I got to see my desk and the books I will be using and I learn that I will also be teaching music during the year and I find that very exciting to share my love of music. I was able while in class to get online and share with the world that I had indeed made it to Korea and to share that my school was awesome. I had expected to have several messages but had no idea to the extent that it truly was and I'm very thankful that I have so many people that care for me in this world. After watching "The Blind Side" three times in the past week I realize how lucky I am to have so many people in my life and realized truly how many people don't have anyone in this world and how sad that really is.
After school we went to the bank so I would have some Korean currency, Won. From there we had to go to the hospital for my drug test, eye/hearing exam, and blood test. It cost $53 for this and once we finished there we stopped at a store to get some things for the apartment. I bought some cookware, alarm clock, candle, shampoo, towels, TP, and detergent. To end our traversing for the day we stopped at the grocery store where I picked up some Kimchi, PB&J, Candy, Bread, a Mountain Dew, grapes, milk, cereal (Corn Flakes), cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, etc. We then shuffled over to my apartment and "talked" with the landlord a bit. I decided I would come to school again tomorrow (Official start is April 2). Again, Boomi will be here at noon to pick me up. After they left I put everything away and went back to yahtzee and puzzles. I might wait until tomorrow to begin exploring my town of Ildong, home to about 10,000 people.
It was fun today to have and use Korean currency and easy to learn how to pay as 1000 is close to $1. They also use the same numbers as we do in the US so it's easy to just look at the register and see 5000W and know what to pay. I also took pictures of everything I bought today to post when I find a uploader as I left mine in KY. I can't wait to hang up my Montana map and get a Korean one as well. Soon I will get picture frames for the pictures I brought. For now I've placed them throughout the apartment. Tomorrow I think I'll show Boomi my Montana slideshow! Well, 'til next time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Flying the friendly skies

As I sit here eating an apple on Singapore Airlines listening to the "Into the Wild" soundtrack I decided it was time to write a little in the journal. I wanted to write aout my adventure that is this day so far. First, I need to thank dad for getting up to drive me to Nashville at 4am when he didn't get in from his trip to South Carolina until close to 1am. I know he was exhausted and I'm sure the pouring rain didn't help as well.
When we arrived at the airport in Nashville we were too late and I missed my flight! However, the ladies at American Airlines (AA) were beyond nice and helpful and were able to get me on the next flight to Dallas, which was to leave at 7:05 and most importantly would still get me to the Incheon airport in Korea on time and it only cost me $50 to make that happen, very much worth it. I also learned that you don't pay luggage fee for international flights which seemed werid. So, I loaded my luggage onto the scale and what do you know, it's too heavy. So, I open the bag and start pulling clothes that I don't need: Charlie's sweat pants, ah probably don't need them; Pineapple shirt, hate to but it's staying with you dad. So, after a little trial and error we were able to get the suitcase under weight. Wow, even our suitcases in America are overweight.
To keep everything in balance though, I made sure to keep my hot pink Hawaiian shirt, you know so I'll make sure to stand out. I'll have to say that I fell in love with the AA lady as she was very nice and helped me more than I would ever expect especially at 6AM. Once we were able to get that situated I walked Dad and Allison back to the van to say goodbye. Allison is happy now that she doesn't have to fight for "shotgun" in the van, but I have a feeling she wishes she did. After saying goodbye I went through security and boarded my plane for Dallas. Normally I don't talk a lot to the people on the plane but the man next to me, He had him a guitar (Forrest Gump reference for you slow polks). We chit chatted a little and I asked him about the gutar and he said he was a song writer and that he predominately wrote country songs. I told him he was in the right city then! I enjoed discussing today's country vs old country and we also talked about my trip and he was very nice and encouraging. Then we talked about how it's hard for some people back home in KY to understand why someone would fly across the world to teach English.
As to why I'm doing this I will have to discuss later. After we landed in Dallas I bought a Code Red(Mt. Dew) and waited to get my boarding pass. I met an older layd that said we all looked like crap in a way only an elderly lady could say and you not be offended. It reminded me of someone and gave me a warm feeling inside. The flight from Dallas to SF was interesting as I fell in and out of sleep in the last row of the plane with an engine right next to me, for 4 hours! When I arrived in San Francisco I headed towards the International Wing. Right before I walked into that wing I stopped and had a junior whopper combo at Burger King, I should have just waited! I was concerened as I approached the counter as I didn't have a boarding pass yet. The lady at the counter said I shoule have got there earlier as they didn't have a ticket for me yet. Adding to my fun was that I didn't have a baggage ticket and they didn't know where my luggage was just yet. She asked me to come back in 20 minutes, so I sat down for a while and then decided to use the bathroom before my 13 hour flight. when I came out of the bathroom they were calling my name over the intercom and I hurried over to the counter and they had my ticket and my luggage, hooray!
Every since I stepped foot on the plane it has been awesome. I have a tv and have already watched Law Abiding Citizen, which I would strongly recommend! Next I watched Precious, in which words cannot come close to describing. For lunch we were given Chicken which lad lima beans, caulifloer and other veggies along with a hot roll and butter, salad, brownie, a coke and water. I told the guy next to me that my grandmother would be happy as I had a hot meal and bread. She was always asking me if I'd had a hot meal. I forgot to mention that I had to pee like right when I got on the plane, but I was lucky that the guy next to me was great and I went and used the bathroom for the first time on a plane. Since then I've been writing this and talking to the lady to my right who is also a really nice person.
For the rest of the flight I chatted with the people next to me some and tried to help the lady with her tv set and we didn't have the best of luck. I also watched part of the movie 2010 and also just tried to relax a while before we landed. It was very weird leaving basically in daylight and having daylight the entire trip and also when I landed. Once off the plane I followed the signs to go through immigration and to pick up my luggage. It's very handy that all of the signs are in English as well as Korean. I stood in line for about 10 minutes and I handed the lady my passport and received my first stamp! Afterwards I rode the escalator down to the luggage claim and waited for my suitcase. I always have a part of me that worries that the luggage won't be there, especially this trip when I'm so far away from home. However, after a few minutes I found my luggage and met a guy named Joshua Nardi that was doing the same thing as I and he would be teaching in Seoul.
I gathered my things and walked outside to look for someone to be holding up a sign with my name, and it was the first one I see. This was the first time I'd ever had anyone waiting for me at an airport with a sign. We walked to the bus taxi and put my things in and headed for Ildong where I'll live. The airport is in Incheon and it's a little ways from Seoul and then Ildong is a small town and it's about an hour or so from Seoul. With the traffic it ended up taking us about two hours to reach Ildong in which the long day caught up with me and I nodded in and out of sleep. On the ride in I wasn't for certain exactly where we were heading so I just sat back, relaxed and slept. Once were arrived in Ildong I picked up my things and met my co-teacher Bomi and my landlord and his wife. My building is three stories high and I live on the top floor. They give me my keys and show me my apartment and everything in it. It's a nice apartment with a good sized tv and everything else I need.
In Korea the heating system is mainly in the floor, which is nice when you get up at night. I talked with Bomi for a while and another English teacher stopped by and we discussed everything. They helped me find my way to the FamilyMart, which is a conveiniant store, where I picked up a bottle of water and a loaf of bread. Afterwards they left for the evening and I put everything away and tried to sleep althought it was much of a success. 'Til next time.