Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

This week was so much nicer than last week and it was Christmas too!
Christmas this year was on a Tuesday but I still had to work on Monday....Christmas Eve. I was however invited over by my french Friend, Veronique, and her family after work. It was like a pajama Party! We watched A Christmas Story, which I found highly entertaining but my friends were a little confused by it. I forgot how American it was. So for christmas I drew them a picture of her kids.


It was in the form of a Christmas card, but I thought it turned out pretty good and it was fun to see their faces when they opened it. After the movie, my friends husband had fallen asleep and she and I stayed up talking until 4 in the morning. It was so fun, but I had to get up early the next day to head to Jinju. In Jinju, I met up with my good friend Jackie, we went to a Christmas party where I go to eat a bunch of awesome food and meet a bunch of amazing foreign people.  We had people from the UK, from south Africa, and of course America. And we all were brought together because of Christmas!
After the first party we went to another Christmas party, I don't know where we got the room but we stuffed the food in because it was amazing! This dinner was at a Korean's families place (Jinju Ward's Bishop), where we ate Gam shi tong, which is like a potatoe soup that only has one potato in it. Strange but delicious. Check out the pic from above to get an idea.
After dinner, we thanked the family, and headed out to town where Jackie took me to an actual tea house. It was so awesome. I tried this plum tea that was so sweet and tasty I just wanted to stay there the whole evening. It was actually good that we just relaxed a bit because of all the food that day and my friend was actually just getting over food poisoning. (Don't ever eat eel, nasty)



 After the tea, we headed to the only Christmas-y thing in Jinju, where Jackie surprised me with cracklers  and we celebrated Christmas together infront of a big christmas light tree.
We were only there for a few minutes though, cause it was freezing. And the cab driver who we got to wait for us was laughing at the insane Americans. But whatever we're happy!
So that was Christmas in Korea, it was exciting and fun but I think next year I'll try to be home for it. This next weekend is New Years and a much bigger holiday here, so we shall see about the festivities next time.

Adventure is out there!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wo_oW Week of Craziness

Okay Really this week was the most hectic that I've had here in Korea, normally I would have at least one down day or something but no it just kept coming and coming and when I thought I could deal with one stressful thing, someone would pop out of nowhere and tell me that I had something else to do or get done immediately.
 But before I start ranting here is some fun Korean-English mess up.
 This post was brought to you by Oranges, the makers of Apples.
(read the label)

Sunday: Church was normal except we had a new president of the Young Women's called and she had only been a member for about a year and so knew practically nothing about Young Womens and her english is very much borderline. Thankfully the second councilor called is my friend, Veronique. (She is the french one). After church we thought we would have a short meeting to teach her about Young Womens and hopefully help her that way. Well that meeting turned into a three hour meeting and even then it didn't accomplish much.

Monday: We had an early meeting for work where we were told that my boss decided that it would be a great idea to invite the parents of the students to watch some of our classes. ( I guess I should mention here that parents are my enemies and that I have never had any good experiences with them). These classes would happen at this thursday and friday. We are expected to have the children ready to present their best perforance and that we needed to prepare a nice typed lesson plan by the next day. Meanwhile I have six classes to teach and Also they wanted us to start calling the students and 'counseling' them. (When I say counsel I mean just have a conversation with the students on the phone to give the appearance that we care.... biggest waste of our time). Then, on top of that we were told that we, the foreign teachers, have a mandatory meeting tomorrow.... at 9am.... that would probably last until we were expected to be at another meeting where we would be expected to demonstrate what we should present at the Open Classes (where the parents would join the class). Yeah, that was a fun day.

Tuesday: I woke up early and went to that redundant useless foreigner's meeting. In all actuality it would have been a very useful meeting had it happened within a month of me arriving in Korea. They talked about Korean and what to expect from the students and even how to gain an E-2 visa which we all already had for the fact that we were in Korea. I slept through the first hour and spaced out through the next. Then halfway through the meeting they had a presentation of Belly dancing. Random as ever and it wasn't really introduced so people were really confused. I snapped a pic because random things make me laugh and at that point I needed a good laugh. I felt bad for the dancers because people were still walking around from the break.
Anyways, we finish the meeting and get driven back to Masan and we all decided that we had enough time to go to lunch together. Which turned out to be really nice but made us late for our work meeting...darn. So, we get to the meeting and the Koreans had just finished their presentations about what they would do for their classes and the head teacher turns to us and asks if we were ready. I could care less at that point and so I volunteered to go first and got it out of the way. Then after everyone went, we were informed that they wanted print outs of all our lesson plans for the classes. Oh whatever. Yet another thing I am not sure we are actually going to use. I am a good employee and so I did the useless task.

Wednesday: This day was actually election day so we had this day off from work which was a curse and a blessing. It was a curse because that meant less time to prep our classes for the upcoming Open Classes. (which might I add had driven the Korean teachers to the extreme where one has given her two week notice). But it was a bless that we had a day off. I made the most of it and went to Busan and visited the temple by the sea.
 
( You should rub the Buddha belly and nose, just in case you want a son.)





I went shopping before and tried to time it to get there at sunset, well I got there alright and it was sunset and then I realized the sun was setting on the other side of the bay. At least I had enough time to take some fun pics before the light went out on me. It was a fun experience, mainly because after I took all those photos I went out on the rocky beach and ate my dinner next to the ocean watching the light fade away. Just over the crash of the waves you could just barely hear the monks chanting.

Thursday: I had lunch with my hopkido instructor and a few of the other students because the next day we were getting tested for our black belts. It was a fun lunch but in truth I don't really talk that much to these people because half the time we are just punch at each other or throwing each other around. Not much time for conversation. So it was interesting to talk with them. Then I had to run to work; where today was the beginning of the dreaded Open Classes. You could tell everyone was on edge and even a couple of teachers were sick because of the added stress. This was also the day where I had most of my students sign up to get calls. So all my free time I was calling students and it turns out one of the little brats had gone through on the sign up sheet and changed some of the numbers. So I was getting wrong numbers. Annoyances! The open classes went well enough and the parents seemed to enjoy it. Then I realized that next week was our first mid-term test and so I had to print that out and start preparing the students for that. It just wont end!

Friday: Today was the black belt test. I think I did okay but I am not sure if that is true. At one point I was supposed to stab my partner and instead the knife got caught on their uniform and it flipped out of my hand and flew across the dojo. I started laughing at that point and couldn't stop the rest of the time. So basically it was over after that, too much stress and I just have to laugh. We see if the board or Black belt judges will find it in their heart to pity the stupid foreigner and give her the belt and certificate. Then at school, it was a continuation of pointless calls and open class. The open class went better then I thought because when I left that last one, they applauded me out. Like I performed or something. It was nice to be done with that and I went to the store after work and splurged on chocolate.

Saturday: I went to a basketball game with my friend, Carter. He got free tickets and invited me along, normally I hate basketball but thought it would be fun to experience it. And in truth it was super fun watching the crowd and kids jumping up and down. I felt like I was back at rubber chicken but everything was in Korean. They had a cheer section where you would be recorded if you cheered hard enough. ( I safely stayed sitting down and hiding myself when I felt the lens of a camera.) I am pretty sure the only other foreigners their were the ones playing on the teams. And they towered over the Koreans too. Funny as ever, also the announcer was dressed in a Harry Potter costume and when I asked my friend why he was all dressed up, my friend replied it is because it is Christmas. Yeah, that didn't make much sense to me either but next Christmas I want to be Harry Potter, too.

Which brings us back around to sunday. I wont say much more other than the fact that I got super annoyed that at Church there was no Christmas special presentation, none of the talks were about Christmas or the original nativity story. All the talks were on was judgement and how our religion was so great. Then we had a combined meeting and that was about the ward's and church's history in Korea. What a Freaking let down! I am already Christmas deprived by being here and then my own church skips out on the whole holiday! Well, we are going to have a Christmas activity tomorrow... while I'm at work. Ugh, this is that last Christmas I am spending away from home willingly. Christmas isn't that big of a holiday here in Korea and that just makes me sad.

Found this tree at the mall, at least I know that commercially, Christmas isn't dead
 
Well, I just want to you all to have a great Christmas and to know how much of a blessing it is to be with family and friends during such a wonderful holiday. We celebrate the birth of our Savior and that is truly a blessing. Happy Holidays everyone, and Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The road goes ever on and on...

So this last Saturday and weekend I did a ton of traveling. It started on Saturday morning not-so bright but early.

It was the second Saturday of the month and I had signed up to go to the temple. I previously missed the past four months of trips the last four months because .... things kept happening.

In anycase, I arrived at the meeting point at 5:30am, that is in the morning! That was early, and it is no longer summer. It was dark and cold and windy and I was alone standing waiting for the bus because everyone else had a car and stayed there, because duh it's cold.

I got on the bus and quickly found a seat so that I could sleep for the next five hours, roughly the amount of time it will take to get to Seoul. It was a long trip, but I did fall asleep for a while and when I woke up I looked out the window at this:

SNOW!!!!!!!!

And it was covering everything! It was so beautiful and happy and and and cold.

My friend from the ward was with me and she had not dressed expecting snow. She had a nice coal and a scarf and gloves but her shoes were high heels and no traction whatsoever. She held on to me the whole time. I had slip-ons that were only slightly better than hers. Actually she did fall once but I was able to catch her, mostly.

We went through the temple two times and it felt so great to find a peaceful place to pray and feel the spirit. One session I did in english and the second I did it in french. Very fun.

Afterward we got back into the bus and headed home. Another five hour ride home. But worth it.
That was Saturday, then on Sunday there was a Young Single Adult activities in Busan. My friend offered to drive and normally I wouldn't go to activities like these just because no one speaks english and I don't want to inconvenience anyone. Well, this time I relented and said I would go. Probably one of my bad decisions. My friend who was driving did not turn on his heating the whole way and he took some back way to avoid the toll-booths that took twice as long. Then he started berating me with inappropriate discussions, asking questions where I felt harassed. We picked someone up along the way who thankfully distracted him enough to leave me alone. The activity I thought was us watching The Christmas Devotional but the guys internet wasn't working and it didn't matter because everything was in Korean. Then at the end, I had to get back into that freezing car and he dropped me off last which meant more harassing. I tried my hardest to be nice and not sarcastic or vicious which I really wanted to be but I refrained. Just barely.

Well that was the big adventures this weekend, I am about to go watch the Hobbit. Hopefully it is as good as I expect.

  Aren't my students Awesome!

Funny Story about those kids. I was in class explaining how to respond to a question then I hear a scream and everone started laughing. I turn around and asked what happened and one of the girls said to wait as she started to unzip her coat. Then she pulls out an eraser which the girl behind her was flipping up into the air. I don't know how but the one girl had flipped the eraser in a way to go down the front of the other girls coat. I just started laughing, it was awesome.

 
Adventure is out there!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Fond Goodbyes...And new beginnings

It was the last week for my Co-Workers, David and Jinny. We had a few parties and even had a group cake eating with chopsticks. Now that David and Jinny left, I am officially the Senior teacher in the school, there isn't another teacher that has been here as long as me. And now they are all looking to me for my helpful wisdom and experience.... wow, we are in for it.

Actually things are looking up, because one of the new foreign teachers here speaks both Korean and english, he was elected to be the middle man between us and the director. Which means no more meetings with her, things are definitely looking up. 

The replacement teacher is from New York, and his name is Yares, pronounced Jadai. He is really green and seems to think to make up for his lack of experience that he should talk.... all.... the....  time....
As much as I understand that he is new and that he is nervous and is trying to establish himself, sometimes I just wish he would shut up.... I'm probably being mean right now. okay, sorry.

In any case, this last weekend I went to Busan to meet up with a friend and her friend who was visiting Korea for a few weeks. We walked around and went to a couple of restaurants and then went to see Rise of the Gaurdians. Amazing film and I watched it in 3D, which made it more amazing!

That was about it for that weekend, what is really cool that happened this week is the snow. When I first got here I was told that it never snows here and that I should not look forward to it. And then on friday morning it started snowing! I was walking back from Hopkido when it started and I just started to smile like an idiot in wonder. A couple of Ajima's passed me and started to laugh which was a little strange because normally I am laughing at them but yeah there you go. Yeah snow!

Okay honestly I had this post done by friday but forgot to post it so sorry for the delay.

Adventure is out there!

video

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Korean Wedding

 




So this last weekend, my Hopkido instructor was the Honored speaker (like a conductor/ director/priest)  at a former hopkido student's wedding and he invited us to go with him to experience what a Korean wedding was like. And all I can say is that is was interesting.

All the older people were dressed in their traditional handbock, which was cool. I got a good shot of one with an awesome furry vest:


 Here is my instructor, as he is announcing the couple and directing what will happen next.

 The room was cool and beautifully decorated but when the wedding started it turned into what I felt like was a runway show. The lights started changing colors and there was music that was more fit in a dance hall not a wedding. The whole thing was very scripted and their was constantly a person telling them where to sit or stand and when to bow. Then there was this part where they brought out a cake for the bride and groom to cut (mind you they used a gigantic cleaver instead of a normal knife) the lights started to strobe and light them up like a rock concert, along with music. I was fighting back laughing so bad. After they cut the cake they just pushed it off to the side as though it was just a normal part of the ceremony.
Another point in the wedding, the groom started doing push-ups and with each one he would shout how much he loved his new bride. Odd, but cute in a military way. Oh also when the groom was asked if he would marry the bride, he shouted like answering a drill sargent that he would and 'THANK YOU'. It was to say the least intense.
And with all good weddings we had a great buffet afterward, filled with food I had never seen before in my life and a sushi bar which was great. I am starting to warm up to sushi. Not as bad as I thought it would be.

Actually a week before we had another wedding happen with a couple that I train with. The couple are both foreigner, one from America and the other from Scottland. They met while teaching here and to avoid a big ceramony they signed the legal documents here in Korea. Of course my instructor would not allow them to get away without a ceremony. Sabunim, my instuctor, set up everything and so it was at the Dojang (Dojo). He made a huge banner and we had a good little reception ceremony there for them. I thought it was cool because it really was a mix of cultures. Andy, the scottish groom, played the bagpipes and we toasted them with wine (cola for me).
They were fun and definitely unique experiences.

That's all for now,  adventure is out there :)