Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Settled in and Sleeping Tight


Talk about busy!!! Now that I am in the full swing of things, I have barely had time to catch my breath! Luckily, even difficult tasks and work are pretty fun so I am a happy girl.

Everything in Suji became familiar to me over the course of the first week and I am happy for that fact. I am always glad to see a familiar face and usually, the people at the stores I go to know me by face. The woman at the mondu place knows me pretty well, as I am a creature of habit and a hardcore lover of mondu! Their mondu is the best!!! It is soo welcoming and nice to have people like those women at the mondu restaurant. I felt soo moved by their kindness that I could practically buy them flowers.... And maybe someday I will! The woman at Skin Food, the cosmetics and skin care store, remembered me from the time before, as well as the guy at the internet cafe. Its just nice to be treated like a regular when you are new to a place.

Things at Poly School are going really well for me, I think. The kids are finally getting used to me and I am getting used to them. I have caught on to the schedule and how to do most tasks required of me. And I love the kids!!! The students who drove me crazy the most the first week of school are some of my favorite kids now. The first two weeks, I did another teacher's schedule, as he was away planning for his wedding.

I am very happy for the weekends, and the weekend is almost here again. This week has just flown by! Last Friday in honor of Nikki's last day at Poly, we went out for dinner at the Korean BBQ restaurant we all seem to like soo much. Dinner was followed by Soju at the Soju and Juice bar, and then dancing and more drinks at EXIT.

I woke up nice and hung over Saturday morning for John Teacher's wedding, which turned out so nice! The wedding was a nice mix of a traditional Western wedding and a Korean ceremony. I think the wedding was touching enough that most of us girls teared up on more than one occasion. Later on Saturday, most of us Poly Teachers went over to Clarence's and Sydney's house to chill out, order Papa John's pizza, and drink some wine.

Sunday, I went on a mini shopping spree, cheapsake Korean style! I got my hair cut for $10 bucks at this salon that is actually really hip and in a cool neighborhood in Suji. And then I bought a hoodie and a dress for $2 bucks each, as well as a Korean Vogue Girl that included a bonus Street Style Denim book for $4.50. And no cheapsake Korean shopping spree would be complete without a totally satisfying trip to Skin food!!! I got some fantastic white shimmer eye shadow there for $3 bucks. I can not sing praise enough for Skin Food! Amen!

Sunday night, I went to dinner with Elenor and had some delish and cheap Korean yummys. I am always glad to have friends who speak Korean, as they are my gateway to more fantastic food choices. I am basically living the live of an illiterate mute and restaurants here surprisingly usually don't have pictures of their food options. Since I am a Westerner, most restaurants will dull down the food for me. They just assume I am a pussy and can't handle spicy so I am learning how to say "Make it spicy!" Later that evening, some of us ladies when to see Mama Mia! and I have to say it was actually pretty good despite all of my former insults towards it.

This week, we started a new semester so I have all new kids and all new classes, and craziest of all, I have started teaching PRE-SCHOOLERS!!!!!! Aye, yay, yay! They are sooo full of energy and sooo loud and crazy, but cute too. And smart as can be. My first day of preschool was kind of nuts- basically, I was given a classroom full of kids and about 5 minutes worth of actual discussion on what to do and next thing I knew, I was in a room alone with 7 rambunctious little hellions! Luckily, Korean kids generally adore their teachers and I am pretty sure I rock their world. My kids are: Amy, Alice, Sarah, Brave, Sean, Victor, and Jeenah. Jeenah is such a cute little boy and usually ends up crying everyday for some reason or another. The first day, he ripped his paper during a craft activity and I apparently didn't get him tape in a timely matter because next thing I knew, he was breaking out the tears. Poor kid!

My older kids in the afternoon are starting to get better. Some of the classes have some troublemakers but I have done my best to be a total hard-ass the first week to show them who's boss. There is nothing like taking a tough show-off trouble maker kid out of the class into the hallway and lecturing them sternly until they look like they are going to cry. It had to be done, and today, the same troublemaker kid was almost a joy to have in class. Part of me feels a bit bad for these kids because I know they might not be getting the most attention at home. Most of their parents work extremely long hours so that their kids can go to expensive after school academies such as Poly School. Many of the kids don't see their dads except of Sundays maybe. The older kids told me that when their dad are home, they are reading the newspaper or busy. Reminds me of when I was a kid- my dad often times worked second shift so I never saw him.

Oh man, the food here is sooo awesome. My first thoughts on Kimchi were pretty negative, as I was just off of a plane and in no mood to try something strongly flavored or new. Lately though, I have been craving kimchi all of the time and I can not get enough of it! Also, I have developed a love for Green Tea flavored anything!!!! I love, love, love the Green Tea Chewistry Donut at Dunkin Donuts and I am also a big fan of the Green Tea ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Mmmm, heaven!

My other big exciting news is that we teachers are going on a trip for Cheosok! We are going off to the woods somewhere to ride ATV's, Wakeboard, and play Paintball. Sounds fun to me! I will be good to get out of the city and be free for a little while. Freedom- ahhhhh!

Myself after my haircut with a yummy cupcake before Mama Mia!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Korea, Land of Cute Things

One of the things that makes me more happy than anything else in the entire world is cute things, with inexpensive things being a close second. (Yeah, yeah, yeah- Love and family and friends are up there on the happy list too.) So this blog is for all of the cute, cheap stuff that I have picked up in Korea that makes me very happy. Enjoy!

Cute little Guy on a key chain from an uber DIY hip store in Insadong- $6 (I splurged, as I just had to have him...)

Pink welcome to my lovely house bear tote, only $1.80 - I use this for my groceries and whatnot.

Skin food is my new favorite cosmetic and skin care line!!! Fantastic products and amazing quality at a dirt cheap price. You can't beat that! Check it out- just click on the link up top that sets the site to English. The concept behind Skin Food is that natural products and extracts from food nurish the skin and guarantee a low price. Can't beat that! Their makeup is especially great- very highly pigmented and quality. The eye shadows are like $3.50 each. I am in heaven!

At last, I have found the world's cutest stickers!!!! These little sushi guys are the cutest thing:) $0.50 cents

Froggie stickers.... Sooo cute!

Ahhh, my green and purple watch. Finally, I will be able to tell what time it is! I should have bargained down the guy but whatever, this watch is pretty kick ass for $10 bucks, right? In the background, you can also see the white blanket I got for $10 as well. I needed another blanket at night and this one was soo retro looking with the pink, orange, and green flowers.

I know I would be happy if I were a fruit, right?

I feel like such a lame-o buying Hello Kitty here but it really is everywhere and soooo dirt cheap so I can't resist. Why eat from a plain bowl when I can get an adorably pink and cute bowl for the same price? Any of the items you see here I got from Daiso for $1 or $2 bucks. Can't beat that!

Junk food! My favorite sticker on this page is the Chicken McNuggets. Mmmmmm, nuggets!

Chicken and egg stickers, cause I like to know the things I eat are cute too.
Cupcake and sweets stickers. Oh my, how sweet these stickers are!

Cute school supplies are a must, since I am a teacher now, right? I loaded up on cute floral tacks for my bulletin board, pencils galore, a rainbow assortment of pens, and a happy metal and glass canister. The pencil case was dumpster dived from a pile near the trash. Koreans like to throw away EVERYTHING, so instead of having thrift stores here, I get to go through the trash for treasures.

Dunkin Donut stickers, cause Koreans like their American donuts. Yum! Yum!

The Wolfhound Pub in Itaewon

The girls and I towards the beginning of the night. We all ordered comfort food like fish and chips, motzerella sticks, and yummy sandwiches. Gotta love Iteawon for all of the Western food!

The ladies talking with one of the soldier guys we met at the Wolfhound.

Katie, Nikki, Kelly, Lindsay, and myself later in the night, perhaps in a must more festive state of being?

Katie with her cool glasses and Nikki giving the peace baby sign.

Kelly and Katie getting silly with on of the girls we met at the Wolfhound.

Lindsay and Kelly with one of the guys sitting at our table.

Myself and one of the army guys we sat with that night. Don't get any wrong ideas, guys, I only chatted with him!!!

Me and the giant pitcher of beer!

Photos Around Suji

The KFC in Suji. Gag me, there are far better places to get chicken in Suji.

The busy streets in Suji. The buildings all contain many floors of businesses and restaurants.

The ever popular McDonalds in Suji is always busy. Eh, I suppose I will crave some good french fries sometimes, right? Suji also has KFC, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks, and TGI Friday's. Eh.

The pedestrian path along the river is very popular. Usually, there are tons of kids on bikes and people taking a stroll.
The bridge over the river on the pedestrian path.

Right up the street from my apartment there are cute Korean kids running around with thier swimcaps on during recess I am guessing.

A Poly School bus parked on my street.

The massive Lotte Mart on the hill. You can get pretty much anything there and it is 5 stories tall!
I enjoy the dirt path that leads to my house. A little bit of nature and tranquility in the city can go along way.

Walking on the dirt path along the river.

Changdeokgung Palace and Insadong Shopping

Yesterday, some friends and I went into Seoul for a day of exploration in the Insadong neighborhood. The bus ride into Seoul is only $1.80 and takes about 45 minutes. Not too bad, right? When we arrived, we went straight to Changdeokgung Palace just in time for the last tour. I love being a tourist! The palace was originally built in 1405 during the Joseon Dynasty. The gardens were my favorite- such a beautiful getaway tucked right inside of the heart of Seoul!

In Insadong, we ate at this little dive in a back alley that served fish and a big bowl of Makgeolli- a sweet, milky rice wine. The fish were sooo delicious! The little restaurant was quite a dive but super cool- the walls were entirely covered in Korean graffiti left from generations of drunken customers.

All of the tourists snapping photos inside the palace courtyard

Little Tombstones honoring ancestors

John, Allison, Ted, and I in the gardens at Changdeokgung Palace

I love the gardens! Sooo beautiful!

Being a tourist is fun, huh?

I was incredibly in love with the colorful rooftops

A giant Koi in the water

Such a beautiful old tree in the palace courtyard>

A back alley in Insadong, right outside of the fish place we ate at.

A large, inflatable beer outside of a bar in Insadong. We opted for buying cans of beer at 7-Eleven and drinking right there in the street.

Towards the end of the evening, we were outside drinking our beers from 7-Eleven and met a Korean man who kept calling me Michelle. Koreans apparently really love Canada but America, um, not so much. Whatever, our new Korean friend Kevin was nice enough to buy us all a little trinket before he whisked Ted away to get him wasted. Oh boy!