Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm a student again. I'd mentioned to Sunbin that I'd like him to teach me Korean since we spend a lot of time together anyways. Allison was interested as well so we casually talked about meeting up once a week and getting books. Sunbin took it into his own hands to make both Allison and I our own personalized photocopied books with our pictures on them! He also bought us a notebook, vocabulary book, eraser and special pencil. So, that just made it official. The lesson went for about 3 hours. I felt very comfortable and learned so much. I miss learning the conventional way. Obviously, I learn on a daily basis just by living life (especially in Korea), but I really enjoyed highschool and college classes with books and a teacher, and this was close to that style of learning.

This idea came up over the weekend while we were at my new friend Joe's house. I've met a lot of Joes here in Korea. Anyways, Joe had us over for a fantastic burrito breakfast which turned into a day of wine, enjoying the sun in Tae Jo Sun park and delicious Indian with Sunbin, Monica, Allison and Joe. Talk about a Sunday fun day! I had a blast!

Saturday was equally as blast-worthy. I went to the cherry blossom festival with Monica, Krista, Emily and Rachel again and this time there were flowers!! The streets were so white lined with the trees. It was a sight! Afterwards we went to the university park and grabbed dinner. We met up with a bigger group at a beautiful wine bar that looked like a bohemian place you'd find in southern Spain. Gorgeous decor. After wine we continued to Rock Station and sang karaoke till the early hours of the morning.

Another wonderful weekend, turning into a wonderful week, and surely to turn into another amazing weekend again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I just got back from dinner with Monica and Allison tonight. I really enjoy being with them. Monica teaches at Langcon school, where one of my old kinder students went after kinder graduation. When Monica found this out, she told my old student, Lauren, that we were teacher friends and Lauren thought that was so cool, of course!

Lauren wrote me this little letter (as an assignment) in Monica's class journal : "Dear Emily Teacher, I love you teacher. I will meet you. Please go to Langcon and we can see! Why are you just teaching at SLP school? And when you go to Langcon I will say hi to you. Yours truly, Lovely Lauren."

I was so touched that I wrote her a real letter and gave it to Monica! What a sweetheart!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Last week was one of those weeks again, where I barely got a moment to sit down... but that's the way I prefer it. I've always enjoyed keeping busy.

On Tuesday, after the gym, I met up with Soo and MJ for coffee and girl talk. We had the best conversation that night that lasted hours longer than expected.

Meeting for coffee is quite the popular thing to do here. Coffee shops litter the streets. So, Wednesday, after the gym, I met with Monica for coffee and girl talk. She's been very busy at her job, so we hadn't seen each other in a few weeks. A few weeks in Korea is like a few years.

On Tuesday, I mentioned to Soo a little problem with pain I had in my back. Koreans are generally very concerned with health, so she insisted we go to the doctor on Thursday after work. I love her for insisting. She's very caring. She came and got me by my work to go to the doctor. It was drizzling Thursday and I didn't have an umbrella. Soo gave me a hard time because of the radioactive rain coming from Japan. We met up with MJ after the doctor's appointment. MJ also gasped at me for my lack of umbrella on such a radioactive day. To make up for it, we ate at a restaurant specializing in spice. Everything they serve is coated in super spicy spice. It took the three of us an hour to eat a small plate of spicy chicken. Soo and MJ had spicy tears rolling down their cheeks. It was quite a painful meal.

After meeting with Soo and MJ, I went over to Julie's house because she was throwing a dinner party for the kinder teachers. It was one of the most delicious dinners. She's a great cook. I admire people that can cook. I need a lesson or two. Julie's leaving in a few weeks. I'm going to miss the delicious smells wafting out of her apartment!

After a hectic week, came the weekend, and it didn't slow down. Over the weekend, a really big group of us went to Bugil Cherry Blossm festival, but sadly there were no blossoms. The festival was held at a nearby high school so the students had a lot of games and fair food and art. The students were shocked to see such a big foreign crowd. We got interviewed and a boy asked to take a picture of my boots. Aftterwards, Sunbin took us a few minutes away from the festival to his university which overlooks a very pretty lake. It was an area I hadn't been to before, and on such a beautiful day, it just made me so happy to be there in that moment. Afterwards, we all went to Vientnamese near my house. From dinner, we continued back onto the roof, which has become routine now that the weather is so nice! I love that roof!

On Sunday, Sunbin took Jenny, Josh and I to a seaside town an hour away for sightseeing and dinner. The town was purely for seafood. We walked around a bit and finished with a shellfish dinner. Sunbin cooked the shells for us on the grill. I'd never done that before. When the shells got very hot and ready to eat, they'd pop open, as if to say "Eat me". It was such a fun dinner with the best company! I laughed the whole night. Sunbin is such a charasmatic guy!

This weekend was without a doubt one of those weekends I'll look back on and become so nostalgic that it will almost hurt to think about.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I have so much to say, but isn't that always the case.... big gift of gab over here.

Two weekends ago, I went to visit Hannah Howard (formally Hannah Dorrell) and her husband Stephen Howard. I am so happy for them both. They recently got married in Korea. Jenny and I took a four hour bus ride and arrived in Changwon by noon. We walked around the town on a very beautiful spring day. Her city is very walkable and green. There is a big lake and lots of open green spaces. She also took us to a little thrifty area of used clothing... something I miss about back home so much... thrift shopping with Susie and Audrey! That night, we went to Changwon's showing of Vagina Monolouges as a fundraiser for women in Korea. It was an excellent performance. We had a wonderful dinner and met her friends afterwards. The next day, she took us to her favorite coffee shop and taught Jenny and I how to sew little hair accessories. I have now taken up sewing in my spare time...I love making these hair crafts!

After Changwon, the rest of the week was busy and just flew right by. Every night after work, I was off doing something, preventing me from keeping up with my blog, or anything for that matter. Monday night, we went out for a coworker's birthday. Tuesday is a blur.. not sure. On Wednesday I met with these two girls, Soo and MJ that had found me on a website for local Cheonaners. They wanted to have an English conversation partner/ friend, though their English is already fantastic. Soo even speaks Spanish! We were seriously talking in Spanish, Korean and English back and forth the whole night. It was un poquito urriupta (which means "difficult" in Korean). Anyways, we hit it off so great! I feel so lucky that they found me out in cyberspace and it transitioned so easily into the real world like that. On Thursday, all the coworkers went out to celebrate Jessica and John (our supervisor) on their last days at SLP. Whenever all the coworkers are together, it's a good time.

And then this weekend begun. Friday after work, I literally threw my books onto my desk at the 6:20 bell, ran to the taxi at 6:25 and arrived at the KTX train by 6:35 to catch the 6:45 train with my friend Sunbin to see MGMT in Seoul! We met his friends there. They are all so funny!! It ended up being me and four Korean dude friends at MGMT. It was such a fun experience just being with them rather than the actual concert experience. The band was great, don't get me wrong. MGMT pleased the crowd with a few Korean expressions and played well. Afterwards, we went to Joon's house for a bit and then he drove us back to Cheonan.

The next day, Sunbin, Joon, Jenny Josh and I went to see a Cheonan soccer game. They were'nt very good, but I need a replacement sport for volleyball so it'll do. It was fun anyways. I had a great time with good company. We got free bags of  delicious oranges from the sponsors. Afterwards, Sunbin took us to a shellfish restaurant that we hadn't tried before. It was delicious and nice to try something new!

And finally comes Sunday, which was another day packed to the brim. I woke up and cleaned the apartment and made tuna for our rooftop party at 4. It was such a nice warm day, which was lucky. There was a great turnout of people and everyone vibed really well together. Though I love getting big groups of people together, it makes me extremely anxious when different groups aren't hitting it off. In this case, it was honestly just perfect. I wouldn't have had it any other way. When the sun set, it did get a little chilly, but we simply moved everyone down to my tiny apartment and kept the party going into the night.

And then it was Monday night and here I am, finally taking a breather, slumped in my big chair, recounting the last weeks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It snowed a pretty good snow today, March 24th. A little late for snow in my opinion, especially since I was wearing short sleeves a week ago. Luckily tomorrow I'll be going to Changwon, down south to visit Hannah, where hopefully it is a bit warmer. My gym trainer told Josh, Jenny and I with all seriousness, in a very stern voice, "Be Careful!" of the changing weather patterns.  I'll beware.

In other news, I still love my new students. They are easy going and it's honestly effortless to be with them. They are the reason I love my job instead of dread it. Though it was a little bittersweet watching my old students move to new classes and a whole new program, I was relieved to have a fresh start. However, four little boys in my old Aries class (Kevin, Jeff, Tom and Daniel) need an extra tutoring class, and I was available to do the job every Tuesday and Thursday. It's a little hard establishing new terms as their elementary teacher and not kinder, but they're doing a fair job respecting my rules for our new special class. I'm honestly really happy to teach these boys again for my remaining months here.

A few posts back, I clamied to be one of the biggest Cheonan Skywalkers Volleyball fans. Well, I'm going to go right ahead and retract that statement. I'm 100% sure the biggest fans wouldn't miss the playoffs! There was a playoff game yesterday and today. I know this because I watched them on TV at the gym, wearing my Cheonan skywalkers t-shirt (unplanned t-shirt coincidence.. I think the fan in me just knew). So, we're going to the last playoff game this coming Tuesday. We had a hunch that playoffs were around the corner, but we just did not play off that hunch like a true fan would! I blame this mishap on my meager Korean skills...hard to be the biggest, truest fan when I don't speak Korean. Better believe this Tuesday I'm going to cheer my little heart out.. let's go Skywalkers!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The past few weekends I've spent in Seoul, which is such a breath of fresh air. Though I love Cheonan and it's smaller, intimate feel, the big, international and eclectic city is a fun place to visit. And, it's only a 30 minute train ride.
A few weekends ago, we went to support Josh in an art auction (fundraiser for unwed mothers in Korea)  in which he had a couple of his pieces. It was an excellent art show that included a spoken word section as well. The speakers were very passionate and talented. After the event, we stayed the night in a jimjilbang (a public bathhouse). Jimjilbangs usually have more than one floor. The first floor is usally the bath areas (one for men and one for women). The other floors are a common (not quiet area with restaurants etc) room, a common sleeping room and seperate male and female sleeping rooms (all on mats on the floor). Jenny, Josh and I decided to stay in the common sleeping area and figured it'd be the best bet. It was so loud and brightly lit and a few weirdos sleeping way too close for comfort. For only 8 bucks, what can you expect?

This past weekend was beautiful. We spent the afternoon out in the warm sun exploring Hongdae art market. Jenny, Josh, Julie and I got little caricature cloth dolls of ourselves... they are very cute and creative. Hopefully Josh will be able to bring his art to the market soon. Afterwards, we went on  boose cruise along the Han River. No one really cared for the music, which was a downer, but it was such a clear, crisp spring night on the water to enjoy. Afterwards, we went to a burlesque show. It was a good show with good music to dance to. And again, we slept in the jimjilbang, but we made sure to do it the smart way. So, we said goodnight to Josh and went to sleep in seperate male/female sections. These sections are basically like 40 little dark caves on the floor for people to crawl into and sleep in individually. I find it really cozy and safe, but of course a little hard on the floor. It's actually kind of fun.
The next morning, waking up at the jimjilbang (bathouse), I had a place to shower, get in the hot tub and enjoy a little time in the sauna before starting my morning. It's very refreshing. We all went to All American Diner for breakfast. We got free refills on coffee, which is such a simple but delicious American pleasure!
After breakfast with everyone, I seperated and met up with Sohee in an area called Meyongdong. The shopping there was exceptional and I found a Forever 21! We had coffee in the cutest little place. Really the place is meant for couples because there are tiny, seperate, curtained off rooms on the floor with a tv, a small table and lights that dim (wink). After coffee, catching up and shopping, we got a very delicious Japanese dinner that I'd never had before called Omurice. So delicious!
I took the train home and here I am... off to another work week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm almost famous. One of my student's father saw Jenny, Josh and I on the Korean KBS sports channel for a televised volleyball game. Maybe famous is a bit of an overstatement, but this is the first step... air time on Korean television... few years later rolling with the big dogs in LA.

Jenny and I started watching volleyball games while running on the treadmills at the gym a few months back but never realized Cheonan had a team. We are the Cheonan Skywalkers!!! Our trainer, Lee, told us about the games and we've been to about 5 of them. We're pretty big fans. And as far as the foreign crowd, I'd say we're the biggest fans in Cheonan. For some reason volleyball is extremely popular as a national sport and it's quite a hit with the teenie boppers. After the games the young schoolgirls (sometimes still in uniform) chase after the players and wait at the team bus for them. I may or may not have chased after a few players myself just like the rest of the giddy schoolgirls...

Because of our enthusiasm last Saturday, we were even interviewed by a woman that works for Hyundai (the sponsor of the Skywalkers team). I was estatic!