December 12, 2011

Perception

"My name is Mary"



December 11, 2011

Full of food on Thursday

Last Thursday was one of the more glorious Thursdays that I've had this year. Usually I teach four 3rd grade classes, three in a row before lunch then one after class closely followed by the 6th grade club class. By some miracle (I'm guessing it was the first snow that we watched fall in between classes) the third graders were behaving well and making strides in their lessons!

After third grade classes were over the sixth grade club class came in to start making their food. Their lesson today was to make some food then write out the recipe in English to end their food unit. I got a lot of free food out of it... even if the quality wasn't very good. It said a lot that the girls made tteopoki and the boys microwaved bacon and put it between two slices of bread. NOT only did they make me food but the other English teachers had a meeting in the next room and they ordered pizza and had cola that they snuck me in for. That was delicioussss.

School ended then the 5 of us English teachers went downtown to check out the cake place that Mirim was talking about earlier this week. When she went in the summer you paid 5,000 won for all you can eat cake. She said that the pieces were small but you could have as much as you wanted. I think we justified the trip by saying we were celebrating Mina's pregnancy but I'm pretty sure that's what we celebrated the last time that we went out to dinner. Actually, I don't know why we thought we had to justify eating large amounts of cake in the first place. So the place was called Gateau Juni and since Juni doesn't mean anything in French I'm guessing it's the name of the woman who owns the cafe/bakery.

We got there and they didn't have the all you can eat option so Mirim ended up getting a "set" which most restaurants offer for groups of 3 or more where they have different popular options from their menu. We usually get a set at Uncle Tomato that has pizza, fries, pasta and other stuff. While Mirim was ordering the set JiHyea and I looked at some of the things you can buy to decorate a cake. We found out that if you paid 18,000 won you get a white iced cake and 7 free decorations to use and you can decorate your own cake! Then eat it there or bring it home.

In the photo of us all together Jungwon is to the far left (she was the one I visited in the hospital really early into the year and was out of school for a couple months), then JiHyea (my official on paper co-teacher even though I don't teach with her she just does all the paperwork), Mina (who we just found out is pregnant congratulations again!!) and Mirim.

You MAY be wondering, "what is that they are doing in their photo with their fists?" WELL it's pose that is associated with aegyo also known as cute&play. Korean girls grow up learning it from their mom, aunts and sisters. Every movement Korean girls between 16-marraige is made with aegyo in the back of their head. The firsts are supposed to make their heads look smaller which apparently makes you more beautiful? That's what I'm told. It's kind of like in America girls become slutty but in Korea girls become cute. In our rendition of Gee during the ambassador's dance it's essentially all aegyo. Leslie is a pro at aegyo.

Most of the people at the cafe were decorating a cake so we were just taking pictures and talking. While we were waiting for the cakes the waitress came
to give us some jasmine teach which I was told by Mirim "gets rid of fat" which I guess is nice if we're about to indulge in cake. Then our food came which was TWO cakes the one with white and brown is the chocolate and cherries with whip cream one then on the bottom is the fruit/walnut cake? It was surprisingly amazing. Also with our cakes came a strawberry cupcake with strawberry cream cheese frosting. In case that didn't fill us up they also gave us a basket and a plate full of cookies and muffins. I didn't think we could do it but I was shocked to see that they could not only eat all the cake but also some of the muffins and cookies.

The cakes were reallllyyyyy good and we stayed there for like four hours. They gave free refills on all the coffee which I don't think helped me later that night but it was totally worth it. Pizza and cake has just made me even more excited about coming home for Christmas!

Puppies on the Subway


on the way to the express bus terminal on the subway I was joined by a furry friend!

December 7, 2011

My New Favorite Song

Be My Baby- Wonder Girls

Proctoring's a Pain

December 4th was one of the more painful days I’ve had in Korea. And that’s because it was spent proctoring the CFA exam.

My weekend started off with a great dinner with my co-teachers. We found out that Mina just found out she was pregnant so we were mostly making jokes about that and enjoying some really good Italian food at Uncle Tomato our go-to restaurant for teacher dinners. I got home and packed to spend the weekend and Monday in Seoul training to proctor, proctoring and eating dinner with Rick.

Saturday morning started early so I could get to the Fulbright building at 11am to start my proctoring training with Mrs. Shim and no one wants to be late for a training session with Mrs. Shim. So I got there signed in and met with some 45 other ETAs to start a lovely 2 hour session of learning about the perils of proctoring a CFA exam in Seoul. First of all, it’s not like the SAT where there is one person reading in a room behind a desk while a bunch of high school students try to get the best score they can. It’s a huge WAREHOUSE that is blocked off and has a kajillion tables in it with 30 different sections of 60ish late 20 year olds trying to pass a test to move on to the next level of testing. They have to pay $1000 just to take it and apparently the stakes are high enough that they will try anything to cheat. Especially because of the high stress test taking culture of Korea. Anyway we were told that we have to stay on our feet for 2 three hour sessions which, come on, shouldn’t really be a problem right? WRONG. Walking around for three hours is a pain in the legs.

So after the training session we went to Hongik University to go to the MEXICAN RESTAURANT one of the like, 5 in Korea. Yummm the avocado burrito was so good. Then we went to myeongdong where I took about 10 people to A Land my favorite store there. After that we pretty much just split off and I didn’t buy anything J proud. Well, I did buy coffee. Then some of us went to Ilsan where the test would be to have dinner and find a place to stay near the testing area so we wouldn’t have to wake up at 4:30am. Anyway, the hotels cost 80,000 won per room which was a lot more than we were used to! So that was depressing but we DID have some really good food at a Korean BBQ restaurant (I was with Hogan who was the president of the Student government at UNC and one of the stars in their a cappella group, Charlie who used to row and has a girlfriend in TALK one of the other programs that brings over Americans to teach English, Paddy, and Emma who lives in Busan and is a very tiny girls but is mostly infamous for eating A LOT.) We went to bed around 11pm and got up at like 6pm to get ready for the long day ahead of us in which we had to arrive at the testing site by 6:50.

We signed in with Mrs. Shim who was keeping a close watch on who arrived on time and got to put on these super cool neon vests that we had to wear all day then went to our various stations. My station was front row center to the entrance. We had to get there two hours before the test starts because, well, no one knows why because everything was already set up. Ok, normally I wouldn’t be doing this but that means we spent those other hours standing because we weren’t allowed to sit in the chairs the test takers would sit in in case we were going to write down some formula that they could use on the test. So after an hour or so of standing around the test takers, a bunch of zombie stressed out thirty year olds, walked in and were stressed about where they were supposed to sit so mostly I had to direct them to where their station was since I was basically the first person that they saw. For the people that WERE in my section I had to ask if they had a cell phone and make sure that they didn’t bring in anything that they weren’t supposed to which didn’t even matter because out of the 5 people proctoring the station we had a lead proctor and 4 other proctors who actually did the walking around thing. One of them was an old man who was checking to make sure their calculators were ones that were allowed and made them empty their pockets which was a little awkward. One of the proctors didn’t show up (it was a Korean not an eta) and so a floating proctor joined our group. Floating proctors are people that make sure the station is filled at all times.

Anyway, then when everyone was finally settled in we started the 3 hours of walking around making sure no one cheated. It was kind of funny to listen to the other ETAs talk about their take on proctoring because some were super crazy/hilarious about making sure no one was cheating and others (like me) formed invisible/non existant bonds with some of the test takers and mentally cheered for them. Basically, we all went a little stir crazy being in a warehouse with nothing but florescent lights, test takers and steel beams to entertain us. The sections were connected on the sides so while we were walking we could kind of make eye contact with each other which started games such as, find the hottest Koreans taking the test, make fractions of the people wearing abercrombing and fitch sweatshirts (they cost like $200 here so that means they’re rich, yo) and guessing who would fail or wig out half way through the exam. My section had two Canadians which was somewhat interesting but it wasn’t like I could talk to them anyway.

After the first section we got to have lunch which was actually amazing. It was teriyaki chicken cooked in a western fashion and soooooo good.

Then came the second session. Ahhh kill me my legs hurt and it was so boring. The only thing I looked forward to was when they flipped the signs saying how much time was left.

Anyway, it was a long day but when everything was collected and I was allowed to sit down (yes!) it was time to go get dinner with Rick! (my dad’s cousin in Seoul on business).

It was an hour and a half subway ride to get to the Park Hyatt hotel where Rick was staying and after briefly getting lost I made it to the lobby to meet him. The hotel was really nice and the lady at the desk called a taxi for us then there was someone downstairs to direct the taxi to the restaurant where we were going. It was a great bbq restaurant where we didn’t have to do any of the cooking and it was great to see Rick. We had some Cass (Korean beer) and caught up. We had both had a long day though so we went back to his hotel and I took the subway to the Fulbright building where I would be staying.

I picked up a bottle of soju and some beer as a birthday present/thank you for letting me stay at your house present for Jim whose apartment I would be staying at. When I walked in Anthony (the boy I did the dance with) Emma (who I stayed with before the test) Hyesung (a Fulbright researcher who just graduated from Wisconsin) and Jim were all sitting in his apartment celebrating Jims birthday. Jim had forgotten I was staying there because he had been studying for the LSAT that he took that morning. It didn’t matter though because Jim regularly has 5 ETAs in his apartment for their trips up to Seoul, it was probably the 4th time that I’ve stayed there.

It was nice though we went up to the roof of the building (surrounded by a tall fence no worries) and continued celebrating in a picnic style party. We then went back to Jim’s and fell asleep. I woke up the next morning and sat around with Anthony and Emma because Jim had to go to work then I got the bus home to Cheongju for my club class at 2pm. Overall, it was a good visit to Seoul even with the day of walking foreverrrr.

Cheonan with mah gurlz

The weekend after the real Thanksgiving Leslie, Lucy and I completed the triangle of host family visits in Cheonan with Leslie’s homestay family. You might remember them from the time that I went with Leslie to go watch her hike a mountain, ended up climbing it with mostly Papa bear (Leslie’s host dad) and earning some major jung (Korean version of brownie points) with him, then sitting with him and the adults at the grown up table (sorry for kicking you out leslie) and eating LOTS of meat and having to drink beer after a major hike and before a two hour car ride. Doesn’t matter now because the point is they love me and I will always have a free space to stay in Cheonan.

This trip was the first time that Leslie’s host brothers sort of opened up though. Her youngest host brother is in 5th grade and he has been learning a few steps from Leslie who minored in dance (she choreographed our whole dance and pretty much stole the stage with none of us were bothered by). He wants to grow up to be a B Boy (boi?) and did some moves for us.

For dinner we had some really good sphagetti, ever since I said that my family doesn’t feed me that much meat they’ve been obsessed with making sure that I love everything they make. It was really nice and afterward Leslie, Lucy and I went downtown to window shop (in preparation for tomorrow) and check out a new bar that had opened where you go and get your own beer (THEY HAD SAM ADAMS!!!!!!! Yes it was $7 but that’s ok). They were super excited to see foreigners and gave us free food which I always feel a little weird about but I decided that them starring at us was the price of free food.



The next morning we got up early to go shopping (Lucy had to catch a train back because she had a wedding to go to the next day) and we hit up H&M where I used my self control and only got a cardigan and then we browsed the socks on the street vendors and bought some really thick tights which I LOVE because they are soooo warm and warmth is something that I need in my life.


We also took some really awesome STICKER PICTURES which everyone who visits me is going to do because yes, they are really lame but they are completely necessary, and only for true friends. In fact, I need to find where they do them in the US. After sticker pictures we went to lunch at my favorite Korean chain restaurant that serves dakboogi which is like fried rice chicken with rice cakes filled with mozzarella cheese and it’s so so so so so sooooooo good. SO good. After lunch we went to the Princess Café which was really a terrible experience the coffee tasted SO BAD (maybe because I ordered Princess coffee). Anyway, we tried to watch a movie after that but the ones that were available weren’t ones we were interested in seeing. Sorry Moneyball.


After downtown we went to go buy Lucy’s train ticket and go to an Indian restaurant that is famous in the world of foreigners living in Cheonan called Mountain Fishtail or something and it’s right across from the train station and it was AMAZING AND CHEAP AND I’M MAD I DON’T LIVE IN CHEONAN. Oh it was glorrriioousss and the family that owns it just had a baby and they were showing it around and it was so cute! Anyway, the meal was amazing. Basically, we ate a lot in Cheonan.

We said goodbye to Lucy then Leslie and I went back to her apartment to settle down and watch a movie. She had just downloaded Taken so we were watching that in her empty apartment (her host family was in Seoul for the night visiting relatives) when we heard someone COME INTO HER APARTMENT. Which was scary. The person took the time to take off their shoes in the foyer (do Korean burglars take off their shoes before breaking into a house??).

Turned out her dad couldn’t take the in laws anymore and came home early. He then offered me a drink. I sacrificed some jung and said no to that and went to bed early.

The next morning Leslie and I slept in then went to the bus station to send me to Cheongju. It had been a very fulfilling weekend.

Real Thanksgiving (November 24th)

On the real day of Thanksgiving (November 24th) I came to school trying not to think about how it was a holiday that I was supposed to be eating a lot of turkey and stuffing (the turkey they served to the Fulbright ETAs was very small and the stuffing was definitely no where near being as good as my dad’s) but when I came to my desk I saw that my thoughtful co-teacher Mirim had gone to a bakery and tried to pick out some baked goods that would simulate a thanksgiving feast for me (like sweet potato pastries). It came equipped with a card written in cursive which I have been teaching her on our downtime. School was really busy and then I ended it with the 6th grade club class where we compared Korean Thanksgiving (Chosuk) and American Thanksgiving.

I’m going to take this time to explain to those who don’t know the differences a little bit about the culture of each Thanksgiving. While our Thanksgiving celebrates a successful harvest where we give thanks to God for giving it to us Chosuk celebrates the beginning of Harvest praying for a good year. Chosuk is always on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar and our Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November. BOTH holidays involve coming together and sharing a feast with friends and family in the fall.


After the 6th grade advanced club class Mirim and Mina (two of my co-teachers) took me out to dinner where I got the closest thing to an American Thanksgiving-oven roasted herb chicken pizza. After the lovely dinner Mina knew of a traditional Korean music concert going on so we had prime seating for that, not because we got there early or had good tickets but because we got there super late so we had to basically sit on the stage. We sat cross legged on the stage for twoooo houurrsss. Don’t worry with my stone bed I’d had plenty of practice with staying still on a hard surface for extended periods of time.

The performance was really good though, I have seen the traditional drums and the cool hats that swing around (I want to find one so that the Hubbard clan can win the HAT PARTY fo sho) but the performers were really good. There was one lady among all the guys and she was realllyyy short but she had a great stage presence. Mirim also fell in love with one of the performers which we won’t tell her husband.






















Also, I want to take this time to thank Mrs. Kennedy for sending those three amazing books to me! I really appreciate the thoughtfulness!!!!

December 6, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Ambassador

Ok, I am sorry that this has taken so long. No excuses.

It's time to talk about the big thanksgiving with ambassador Sung Kim.

So, we've been practicing our dance for awhile but we hadn't really perfected it. On the Friday before our Thanksgiving Anthony and I had a quick practice, Leslie was too sick to move and Esther still hadn't come to Seoul from Gwangju. We also met with a few other ETAs that were in the Fulbright building where we practiced.

The next morning we wake up and Lucy, Leslie and I got coffee in Insadong and did some Christmas shopping. We were then a little late to the dance practice but Esther, Anthony, Leslie and I managed to get together for another hour and a half of practicing. It still wasn't perfectly ironed out but we looked presentable.

We met up with Jake, Gem and Paddy who came from Gwangju and we all got in taxis to go to the Cultural Museum (the same place I went with KU for orientation). In the rush to get there on time Jake lost his phone in the cab.

Then, we get to the site and they are having most people take the tour but myself and a few other ETAs helped set up for the dinner (the museum was sort of interesting the first time but there was no way I wanted to go through that again). We finished setting up for the dinner and were sitting on some benches outside when an important American couple walked into the museum so the ten of us stood up and were unsure of what to do but ended up just introducing ourselves. Turns out the couple was on the committee to write our applications for Fulbright crazzzyy. That was the time when we decided that we should move in case the ambassador comes and we don't know what he looks like or how to welcome him and whatever so we went to the main room again.

At the same time that the ETAs were finishing their tour the ambassador comes in and we greet him and Mrs. Shim (our Fulbright Director) with the traditional welcome (bowing and saying hello in Korean). It was then time for the Thanksgiving formal dinner. We were supposed to find places at some of the many tables. There were different name cards on them for people that work in the embassy. As I was walking around Anthony pulled me toward a table and sits me down saying "we're doing this" before I know what is going on the table fills with my friends Anne (I'm taking Korean with her this fall), Paddy (he came to my school to help me teach) Anskar (he holds the camera for our dance) and others. I look at the place cards and not only is MRS SHIM sitting with us but also AMBASSADOR SUNG KIM. Within minutes everyone was sitting down. Not only was I nervous about the KPop Dance that Mrs Shim didn't even KNOW WE WERE DOING but I now had the AMBASSADOR sitting at my table for Thanksgiving.

The entertainment for the night went in the order of traditional Korean music, dinner and the talent show. I was in the front row (as you will see later) for the talent show with the ambassador pretty much staring at the back of my head for the whole time. Then the people who were in the talent show were supposed to eat dinner before everyone else and because Anthony and I were the only ones in the talent show we went up to get dinner first with the ambassador and Mrs Kim. By the time we sat down with them no one else was at our table because they were in line for food.

Anthony is probably going to be a diplomat at some point in his life but I was just still nervous about the dance. We had some small conversation then the Ambassador asked me "How my stay has been going so far" what I THOUGHT he said was "how is your dinner so far?" Don't ask me whyyyyy because I don't know. He was far away and he had a different accent because he lived in Korea until he was 12 then moved to the U.S. so my answer was "the turkey is great" and because no one talked for a while after that I said "I like the stuffing too." That's when the ambassador and mrs shim started talking to each other so Anthony turned to me and said "you know he was asking about your year right" and then I smacked myself on the head which probably just made it worse. DOESN'T MATTER. it's cool.

After dinner we decided that it was time to change and practice our dance one more time. Needless to say we were really worried, we were afraid that we'd forget the parts (don't worry it happened), we were afraid that the dance would offend Mrs. Shim or the Ambassador, and I was afraid that I had too much to eat at dinner and I would be so nervous that I would throw up.

The first part of the talent show were three ETAs who were essentially placed in NK doing a glow stick dance to Party Rock. After they went on and Mrs. Shim didn't lose it we felt a lot better. Then one of the ETAs played his violin in a very classy way. While he was practicing his violin Anthony took the time to record our feelings in a video. mom.

Well, the stage was set so it was time for us to go on. Anthony did a little introduction talk to say how this dance made us more approachable to our students etc. The empty chair that you can see is MINE and the boy filming was sitting next to Mrs. Shim who was sitting next to the Ambassador which just shows you how close they were sitting. And now, the moment you've been waiting for. The Dance.

As you can see, we did an OK job and I definitely messed up a bunch of times but it was all worth it when we went back to change into our clothes and bumped into the ambassador who left right after the show and said to us "that was GREAT." Even Mrs. Shim loved it. And THAT is how awesome my Thanksgiving with the ambassador was.

To see the original music videos of the songs that we put together look at these links (in order of how they were performed

I'm so Sorry but I love you-Big Bang

November 15, 2011

How to Welcome an Ambassador and/or ruin your future in international relations


Hey Folks! It's been a busy few weeks (I feel like it's always busy) but here are some updates:

1) I'm coming home for Christmas! I arrive on the 22nd of December and I leave January 4th. I hope to make a trip down to Dayton in between Christmas and January 30th when I leave to visit Poppa and Crackers in NC.

2) The Korean Soonim (I think that's what it's called) was last week so one of my friends teaching in a high school came to help me teach my 3rd graders on Thursday. Even with three teachers in the room some classes are still out of control! (Ok, they're not really out of control but really really loud.)

3) I went to Junju to practice a K-Pop dance (those are two of the 5 songs we'll be dancing too) that we will perform for the NEW AMBASSADOR!!! ahhhhhhh I don't know why I'm doing this but it should be interesting. We practiced in a college dance studio that my friend Anthony got from connections with his cousin who teaches dance there. We will be performing at the Thanksgiving Dinner in the embassy this weekend. If there's a video I'll make sure to post it!

Today was a nice Tuesday, it was Kimchi making day but I was in school. Really kimchi making day means the house smells bad and my mom cuts a lot of cabbage and puts it in a jar in the refrigerator for a year with other spices (traditionally it's buried the culture has evolved) in school we did "role play" in 4th grade which was about Beauty and the Beast eating dinner and the Beast losing his fork. The lesson involved a lot of 4th grade students dropping the f-bomb while trying to reenact the story. Maybe we'll work on pronunciation next class...

For the advanced 4th grade club class we used the stickers and stencils Gig sent us (thanks Gig!!!) and learned about Thanksgiving history and food items. I think I'll bring the stencils home and Sol and I will make some decorations. The students sat through a powerpoint presentation then spent the class playing the matching came with vocab words and pictures and choosing 4/6 stencils to draw then label. Here's the finished product!!


BTW the old 5th grade English teacher who used to be pregnant is back!!!

Also, Poppa, thanks for the skittles!!! I wish I could use them for prizes in classes but I just love them too much to share with anyone except the English teachers!! It's funny that you sent them because I was JUST telling my friend about how much I wanted some!

November 7, 2011

Lucy's Apartment in Daegu

This weekend I went to go visit Lucy in Daegu and stay with her host family! Leslie and I came on Saturday morning to spend about 36 hours in one of the bigger cities of South Korea.

Lucys host family consists of a hostmom named jooyoung who speaks English fluently and her job is translating tourist brochures and signs into English. (She actually translated all the brochures that we used in Gyeongju!) Her dad, who I cant remember what he does but he doesnt speak much English, and two host brothers Min Jun who is in 3rd grade and very VERY good at English and Min Sa who is in first grade and also surprisingly good/humorous with English.

It was nice to have Leslie around because she would translate what Min Sa was saying to Lucy and her brother which ended up being things like In the name of Justice I will punish you!!!

Leslie and I arrived around lunchtime so we had a very nice lunch out then went to a show with the whole family called High Kick. It is the sequel to the show Jump which Monica and Aunt Elizabeth saw when they visited Seoul. High Kick was about soccer and most of the show was them doing cool soccer ball tricks. After High Kick Joo Yung, Leslie, Lucy and I went up a mountain (in a car) and saw one of the biggest temples in Korea and I think it was the most beautiful one that Ive seen so far it had a really great lantern tunnel to a huggee Buddha and other nice temple rooms. We went to dinner in a restaurant up in the mountain by the temple then went to a tea house and spent about 2 hours talking which was very nice.

After we got home Leslie had to meet her friend so we went downtown and got ice cream with her. Leslies friend works at Camp Walker one of the army bases in Daegu (I think there are three). We also met one of her friends briefly named Garren who has been at Camp Walker for 18 months and he says hes supposed to be stationed there again which is unusual but hes happy because he likes Korea.

Coldstone was nice but we were all really tired at it was about midnight when we got home. Leslie asked Lucy about taking a shower in the morning then Lucy had to explain that her hair had clogged the shower drain and that we can only leave it running for 15 seconds at a time so at 1am we decided to try and fix Lucys drain.... unfortunately it didnt really work out but it was pretty funny at the time.

In the morning her mom made us a feast. She had made banana pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs (I avoided those), cereal, hash browns, yogurt and then a bunch of Korean dishes too. We had about 20 minutes to eat everything before going to their church that Lucy teaches Sunday school at.

Lucys host family actually founded their church which is a nondenominational English church. Lucy had told me stories about how she didnt really agree with the pastors preachings so I decided to stick around Sunday school with her instead of going up with the congregation. (Leslie went and she said I would have died because all he talked about was the commandment about not murdering and she thought it was a bad mass.) Lucy is one of the three women that were there working at Sunday school and that Sunday was the day they decided to start on the Christmas play which they adapted to some sort of animal craziness and all the army brats (there were like 4 Korean children and then the rest were just children/literal brats of the militants from Camp Walker) were going crazy about their parts. It made me happy I dont speak the same language as the students I teach.

After mass the church served everyone lunch which turned out to be curry, yum!! Then Lucy was supposed to have Youth Group but there was a lot of things going on (they were originally supposed to go to a zoo type place then bowling then everything was cancelled so they were going to do a lesson lead by Lucy) and NO ONE CAME. So Lucy, Leslie and I said goodbye to the host family bought tickets home and sat in a coffee shop for 2 hours.

The coffee shop was really cozy and I had a great Lemon Slush (I had a lot of coffee at lunch and seriously, how often do you find Lemon Slushes in Korea?). All and all I had a great time visiting Lucy seeing Leslie this weekend.

Now its Monday and I would be sad exxxcceeepppttt Im getting an iPhone!! J more on that later!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 31, 2011

Clare gets Naked ...with chickens.

Funny title, I know. But this weekend was the first ever weekend that I went to a Jimjilbang!! AKA a Korean Sauna AKA home to lots of naked people.

I was visiting Leslie at her homestay in Cheonan and her host mom was like "ok my sister and her daughter will be here soon then we will all go to jimjilbang" and Leslie and I were like uhhhh what. excuse me? Leslie was horrified and looked at me when the mom left the room and said "I'm going to tell her that because you are an American you are not ok with this jimjilbang thing" and I started laughing really hard because the thought of being naked in a sauna with Leslie and her host female family members was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. I therefore refused to let Leslie use me as an excuse. (In case you were wondering about why she was allowed to use ME as the AMERICAN it's because Korean's don't understand that Korean-American's are American and may know little to nothing about Korean culture which gets them into some uncomfortable situations but that's not important right now)

So anyway, Leslie, her host mom, her host aunt, her host cousin (girl in middle school) and host brother (boy in middle school) and I all get in a car to experience our first (well, Leslie and I's first) jimjilbang experience.

Once we get to the sauna which we almost didn't find but then I saw a sign that pointed in the direction of the sauna and Leslie's aunt was pissed because she didn't see it and I did which was funny and Leslie and I probably laughed harder than was necessary because then she got more mad (ok, I understand this writing isn't the best but I'm just trying to get it on here.). Anyway, we got to the sauna and were each given a key to the lockers. We put our shoes in one locker then headed off into different [un]dressing rooms (boys and girls) We walked into the girls room and were immediately welcomed with lots of naked middle aged women walking around. There were mirrors everywhere that people were supposed to do their hair in ??? there were also hair dryers and sprays and stuff. So we went to our lockers and then... the clothes came off.

Leslie and I were like, well, I guess this is a bonding experience. So after we were all naked we went into the showering room where we had to shower and sit on these little plastic stools. Leslie was horrified at the idea of how many butts had been on them and I was being straight up stared at because I was the ONLY WHITE GIRL in the room. After the shower the host cousin told us to sit in the jacuzzi. I promptly got my backed sucked into one of the drains creating a large red circle where a tramp stamp would go on my lower back. THEN we had to go under this shower thing in the middle of the room and pull a string that poured freezing cold water on you. (I think the point of this was to make my cold worse.) After the shower room Leslie and I were allowed to put on this baggy pink uniform and go into the common area that had a tv with some mats lying around, a snack bar, a place with exercise machines and a computer room. I thought that was completely random.

There were three different Sauna rooms in this area. One that had a cold room (11 degrees Celsius) one with a sort of hot room and one room that literally looked like an oven. So the cousin made us go into the cold room for a little while but then the host mom found us and told us we had to go into the warm room then the hot room. The warm room was hot but not too bad and we were told that Koreans sleep for 1 or 2 hours there. That seemed a little excessive. Then we were forced to go into the oven for "three minutes" and I wish I could have taken pictures but we really looked like we were entering a pizza oven. Picture a pizza oven. Ok, that's what I was in only it was human sized. I was ready for the Koreans to lock us in and say "ha, ha you're toast!" but that actually didn't happen. It was HOT in there though. We were all sweaty and gross. Then the mom wanted us to go back into the cold room and I said, "listen host mom. you got me naked, I have a red circle on my back, all the old women are staring at me and I have a cold. I can't go into the cold room." Actually, I didn't say that, but Leslie and I did decline. The host aunt decided I was going to drink beer with her which seemed like a terrible idea because we were so dehydrated but ok whatever. Then Leslie and I fell asleep on the mats for an hour while everyone else sweated some more.

Finally at 11pm we were woken then told to shower and change back into our regular clothes. So we had to take off the uniform, go back into the other room and shower. Putting on clothes was really nice though.

We got home and I settled down to sleep on Leslie's floor. Leslie's host mom (let's call her mama bear) came in and told us to get ready to leave for the MOUNTAIN that we were going to climb at 5am. Not a problem.

We set our alarm for 4:50 and when it went off we didn't hear anyone moving so we went back to sleep. Host mom comes in at 6pm and tells us that we will leave in 10 minutes. After everyone gets into the car we embark on our 2 hour long car ride to NeyJangSan mountain. Ok, the thing about Korea is that it is 70% mountainous so when they told me we were driving 2 hours to get there I was a little sad. There are mountains about 30 minutes away from I live that I'm sure are just as tall as the one we were going to.

The car arrived at 8am and we parked and set out for our walk to the peak. It was supposed to take 3 hours. Let me tell you something, this was not an easy hike and Leslie is not an outdoors person. Actually, that's the whole reason I said I would come was because I wanted to watch Leslie struggle up a mountain but it turns out that mama bear and host aunt weren't too good at hiking either. Leslie's host dad aka papa bear and I forged ahead and climbed up the mountain a lot faster than everyone else (my gut told me it was the right thing to do to impress the dad). He made me stop periodically to yell "American things" to make an echo... (I never heard an echo). If you were wondering what I was yelling it was things like "My stomach hurts!" because the air was thin and I was having a hard time BREATHING. Anyway, we got to the peak and sat at the very top, at that point I was too tired to be afraid but once I started resting I also started shaking a little because I think I'm afraid of heights. We took some pictures then waited for Leslie, her brothers, her cousin, her mom and her aunt to get there. Once we were all at the top we took some more pictures then headed down.

The journey down was more pleasant but Leslie still fell a bunch of times so that was funny. (She was also wearing converse). At the end of the climb we all got into the car exhausted and then drove to a restaurant that had the freshest beef for 30,000 won a person. Papa bear was so happy with the climb that he made me drink with him which I didn't really want to do because I knew I would be car sick later but I got through what he wanted me to and I felt like it was a good decision. After dinner the family dropped off Leslie and I at the bus station so we could head back earlier. (they were off to see a baby in a hospital or something...)

At Leslie's house we got ready for Halloween in Seoul then took the KTX train into the city to the Fulbright building where our friend's apartment was that everyone was staying at. We got there and the room was decorated for halloween then we all went out to the clubs. Leslie and I were exhausted and we ended up going back at 1:30am but it was still fun seeing everyone.

The next morning we went out to have brunch in Itaewon and people watch (there were about 11 of us there for halloween). After brunch a couple people headed out but then the rest of us stayed and lazied around, watching movies then getting dinner. I got back to Cheongju around 11pm and I was so exhausted!!! Ahhhh.

School today was fun because it was Halloween and the host parents are out right now so it's just Sol and I for dinner. When I came home from school I saw that Sol had let ALL THE CHICKENS out of the coop! So I decided to document that in this movie:


video


Also, if you want to see another movie I made about one of the chickens here is the url: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2272288047408&set=t.1254840026&type=3&theater

October 27, 2011

5th Grade Advanced Class

Yesterday we worked on posters for the student's personality and I decided to film them to keep them on their toes...


video

October 25, 2011

Gyeongju Conference

This weekend was the Gyeongju Conference where all of the Fulbright ETAs get together (with people that stayed an extra year we have around 110 people). They rented out a floor for us at one of the hotels and we spent 2 days doing meetings that had topics such as: using the elementary school text book creatively, how to work with a co-teacher, traveling around se/sw asia, using books in the classroom, how to label yourself and talking about homestays. On Sunday they took us on a tour of Gyeongju to a pretty mountain top with a temple (the bus ride was AWFUL. Thank god they handed out pretzels! First pretzels of my whole trip to Korea!! I wanted to ask where they bought them but forgot). This is a picture of Leslie, Lucy and I at the mountain.


Below is a "family picture" of me and some of my closer friends (Jake is lying on Paddy and I while Anne is in the back and then there is Leslie). This was taken at the temple (I'm not smiling because I'm the angry korean mother) Then there is the view from my hotel window of a beautiful lake and an amusement park!


Above is a picture of me and the girls ^^ from left to right are Elizabeth and Liza who went to college together in New Mexico. Lucy from West Virginia is the girl I first talked to on the plane from Chicago to LA. There's Gem with the glasses from NYC then Ekatarina who was my room mate in Jungwon and me and Leslie!

It was really great to see everyone and see how people are doing with different schools and home stays. Mostly we had great food and a great time. The weather was also really nice for our tour but raining all the other times (doesn't matter because we were in the hotel!) Gyeongju is famous for being the "cultural capital" of Korea and also for it's bread. There are two types one that is a circle filled with red bean paste that older Koreans enjoy and the other of two barley pancakes with a small amount of bean paste holding it together.

P.S. Thank you mom and dad for the post card and the package of my sweaters!! Also, Gig thanks for all the mail! The kids do in fact love stickers so if you want to send them please feel free!!

October 19, 2011

Today


I woke up today, had breakfast then went back to take a nap (classes were cancelled today until after school club classes for the student's midterms) I woke up from my nap and had a cup of coffee on my porch :) It was a beautiful day!!!

After coffee I went to school and decided to take a picture of me
at my desk DB style. (anyone involved in 223K would understand that)
On Mondays and Wednesdays there is a girl in 2nd grade who has decided to start a written correspondence with me, today she drew a picture of me!!!
Now I'm finishing up my day at the coffee shop.


October 7, 2011

Set Up

Today, I got set up by my host family. Not set up as in a practical joke but set up as in a date. I told them last night that I was going to spend the weekend in Cheongju (my first weekend home in awhile) and then this morning on the way to school hostdad told me that he had a friend from Jeju coming and that maybe he and him would go out to eat dinner or maybe the friend would come over. I didn't think much of it at the time.

So after school I went to homeplus (the targetesque store) and bought a yoga mat (the floor wasn't cutting it for me anymore) and some other stuffs went to a coffee shop and finished my book then came home. I started doing a longer yoga session on my computer when Sol came in right as I was doing the pigeon pose which he thought was very amusing and made me do again but then he left. I could hear host mom setting the table downstairs so I stopped doing yoga, put on a sweatshirt (I was now wearing a t-shirt, sweatshirt and running shorts) and went downstairs. Dinner wasn't ready yet, we were still waiting for hostdad (I forgot about the friend at this point) and so Sol and I started playing Uno.

After a couple of rounds we heard a car come up to the house and Sol told me it was his dad, which I thought was weird because he walked to his job but I figured someone had given him a ride home but THEN the host door opened and a family of 3 walked in a mom, dad and boy who was just out of the army/college. oh great, I had heard stories of this happening but I didn't think it actually did. I ran upstairs to put on some pants because it was awkward that I was wearing work out clothes and we were having a DINNER PARTY so I just put on jeans. I came back downstairs and was forced to sit at the head of the table next to this boy who I kept forgetting could speak English and I was kind of talking to myself because that's how I roll in awkward situations. P.S. The Koreans don't do the whole glass of wine or beer at dinner thing which made me feel even more uncomfortable. Anyway, this boy kept trying to get me to eat sea food when he already knew that I didn't eat sea food (I heard his mom ask my hostdad in Korean) and that was annoying because they were little baby shrimp with their eyeballs all black and looking at me. Thankfully after awhile Sol pulled him away to come look at something on the computer so I stayed sitting at the table where I listened to the other family ask questions about me which was really annoying because I a)knew enough Korean to understand some of the parts of questions they were asking about me and b) didn't know the rest of the Korean to know what was really going on and c) I was RIGHT THERE hellloooo. jerks. So my dad noticed that I had my suicide face on and told me I was allowed to go upstairs to talk to my friends which I took as go upstairs and immediately call Leslie but I think he wanted me to go hang out with Sol and that other guy.

When I went into my bedroom I smelt something strange. Then I realized it was the COLOGNE that boy was wearing. He had gone into my room!!!! bahhhh. what the frigg. so strange.

So they're still here and I'm still staying in my room because this is still awkward.

I'm never staying home for a weekend again.

New Korean Friends

On Wednesday this week a group of some of the ETAs teaching in Cheongju got together to celebrate Luke’s surprise birthday party and also to get dinner with some new Korean friends we made. (There are 12 ETAs in Cheongju, 3 are people coming back for the second or third year and 10 are first years who are Me, Ekatarina, Jessica, Andrea, Crystalyn, Jake Phillips, Dan, Luke, and Izumi.) Ekatarina’s co-teacher knew that some of us wanted to make Korean friends so he essentially put an advertisement in his undergrad university for people who are interested in hanging out with foreigners. I missed the first meeting because I was feeling sick but I decided to go to this one. It was nice but there were a lot of us so we were spread out to three different tables. Jessica and I sat at one table with 3 Korean girls who were in their second year of college.

We surprised Luke with a cake and some presents with notes from all of us then ate some ramen. I was praised on my chopsticks skillz.

After eating the ETAs and one of the Koreans (Kang Sun) went to go get coffee and ice cream. It’s always nice getting together with people but sometimes it is hard for me to muster up the energy.

We exchanged stories about how we’re dealing without books (I’ve just been buying them which is a little expensive because I go through like 1-2 a week... yay no homework or tv.) Ekatarina has a library card but you have to have your foreigners ID and a picture to get one. I’m thinking about trying to do it this week because she said the whole 4th floor of the library is foreign books. I think we’re also starting a note in our group on facebook about what books we have.

For anyone at home who is interested I just started reading a book series that came out in 2007. It’s The Mysterious Benedict Society. So for anyone who is looking for a good harry potter/roald dahl like novel check it out.

Thanks Poppa and Gig for sending me some mail! Gig, yes they do love stickers and they don’t do Halloween in the sense that they go door to door trick or treating but I think they’re so in love with the holiday that they celebrate it in as many ways as possible. I plan on dressing up like a witch and giving candy to whoever says trick or treat to me. J

October 4, 2011

Update on the Chickens

For those of you who may be wondering how my chickens are doing the latest on them is that THEY'VE LAID EGGS!! We have had 3 eggs come out of the chickens. This is terrifying for me because it also accompanied the news that...

the chickens are fighting over the rooster. They all want him. And now that I know that there is a boy chicken I know that these eggs can be FERTILIZED. aughhhh. I hate eggs.

September 20, 2011

Clare, What does your house look like?




MY STONE BED!!!










The moment you've all been waiting for x3... pictures of my house!!!





Here is the view from the front street













Here are my chickens!!



















This is my room












September 19, 2011

Poop, Puberty, Lotto & Zits

Let me lead you through our dinner conversation.

backup information: Last night my dad had a dream about a snake. (good to know I'm not the only one who talks about my dreams right?)

Actually, I guess most of this conversation was after dinner had ended/ was ending, but at the end of dinner Sol EE started walking around and making funny gestures such as running into the table with his stomach or rocking backwards in his chair. He then ran out of the room into the bathroom exclaiming "something something in korean something sansengnim (teacher in Korean)" My parents were laughing and told me Sol was breaking wind and didn't want me to be around it so he ran into the bathroom. While he was in there they started talking about puberty for no reason at all just that they wanted to learn how to pronounce it. I don't know what puberty had to do with anything but it was definitely talked about for at least 5 minutes.

This lead to the discussion of "stool." My dad kept saying "do you know stool?" "do you know stool?" and I'm like yes but why are we talking about backless chairs. So I wasn't getting it and he had to bring out his phone dictionary that said something along the lines of "excrement, stool, shit" and I'm like ohhhhhhh that stool... he kept saying it was the hospital term. "do you know urine?" Yes I do dad. "do you know blood?" yes. Apparently these are all hospital terms. However, talking about stool got him excited BECAUSE it reminded him of his dream that he had last night about the snake.

Host dad apparently looked up on the internet at work what it meant to have a snake in your dream and discovered that it meant he had lost money. He then informed me that taxes were taken out of his pay check last week and that churchee (church pronounced by a Korean man) had also taken his money. Therefore, the "survey" was very good. I think he meant survey to be the dream interpretation. Apparently while looking up snake dreams he came across the idea that having "stool" in your dream is the best thing that can possibly happen to you and that you will win the lotto the next day.

According to Host dad here is a ranking of good things in dreams that will let you win the lottery the next day:
Stool
Pig
Dragon
Shaking hands with President/King

He then showed me a picture of some numbers scribbled down on a piece of paper.
3 12 1 5 18 8

Then asked me, "do you know the importance of these numbers?" ummmm.... "I guess 5 18 is my birthday?" He ROLLED HIS EYES AT ME then said

a,b,c= 1,2,3 3=c. abcdefghijkl=123456789101112 l=12 a=1 CLA then 5 18 for my birthday and the 8 is for something that I still don't know but he told me he's waiting until he has a dream with STOOL IN IT so he can play those numbers in the lottery. I guess host dad is going to go win the poop lottery.

After that discussion died down my mom decided to point out my zits. Thanks host mom, great cue for me to leave the table and cry myself to sleep and write this blog.

AND SOL JUST WALKED INTO MY ROOM AND GAVE ME HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE AND HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. I love this house.


Shopping in Seoul

I've been meaning to blog but my internet in my house is down!! I'm currently in a coffee shop enjoying a lovely vanilla latte on this COLD FALL DAY. That's right. it is no longer a million degrees here which is PERFECT because I just bought a beautiful red fall jacket in Seoul for only 30,000 won!! (About $30) Too bad I forgot it on my way to school today.... there's always tomorrow!

So last weekend I stayed home on Friday night then left early on Saturday to go to Seoul and meet up with my friend Leslie. In Seoul we went crazy shopping with our first pay check! We worked out our frustrations with retail therapy and I feel much better now.

food dopoki.JPG.jpg


After a day of shopping we went to our friend Stephen's (Stephen used to be a member of the OCT and now works as the ETA coordinator throughout the year listening to people's housing problems so we get some good stories) apartment and made dopoki a korean dish that is spicy and usually eaten when it's cold and rainy outside. While it wasn't raining it was still delicious because Leslie made it from scratch :) We watched the movie Chicago together because it's Leslie's favorite... I guess it's fair since she made us dinner.

After dinner and a movie it was like 1am so we went to sleep then woke up at 9. Stephen decided to come to Cheongju with me and Leslie had to meet her uncle for lunch. Stephen and I got on a bus and headed back to Cheongju where we went to church with Andrea, Izumi and Jake. Apparently it's the only English speaking church in Cheongju and it's rather conservative. Let's just say I didn't stay in the service for very long.

imgres.jpeg

After mass we took a bus to downtown Cheongju together to eat lunch. We had a dish that included sea food (this turned out to be fish eggs, the same kind my brother takes out of fish at the breakfast table and says "teacher fish baby" while rubbing the area where is would be uterus is and eating the sack. Oh, I'm usually eating seaweed while this happens. Try eating seaweed soup while someone is talking about eating fish eggs right after you wake up and tell me what kind of day you're going to have.

Anyway, It had fish eggs, beef, vegetables and noodles. Apparently the meal is sometimes also served with rice. A bowl of steaming water with fish eggs is served then you are given a platter of vegetables you add in. After that you add meat and wait for it to cook. After you eat a fair amount of that food you add in the noodles. It was really very good and we picked out all the fish eggs (that's right, everyone there.)

After breakfast we of course needed some dessert so we went to a coffee shop called bonjung. We passed a cafe called the New Yorker which a lot of westerners go to... we speculate because the name is homey. And I get a text from our friend Luke who is also working in Cheongju as an ETA so he met up with us too. Ekatarina (my roommate from Jungwon) met us at the cafe and we got a 10 piece cake that had a slice from every different cake. It was amazing we had a bite of each kind.

After the cake Jake had to go home but Jessica (as you can tell I met a lot of people) showed up. To kill time before dinner (yes we ate a lot) we went into the store Uni Qlo which is a Japanese franchise that is similar to H&M. Luke who is 195 cm tall (really tall) found a pair of black skinny jeans that fit him and was really excited. Izumi got some purple pants, Andrea got some jeans... etc. What I thought was really cool is that when you try on the clothes they tailor it for you so when you check out they take your pants and hem them for you and you come back in an hour and you have a pair of perfectly fitting jeans!!!

While waiting for the jeans we went to get Kalbi which is bbq ribs korean style. I usually don't like this meal in the setting of a cafeteria or my home because the bones are still in it and when you pull out the bones there is this fatty circle. It also doesn't have very many spices or marinades but at this restaurant... oh it was glorious.

You go in and there are 3 items on the menu. Cold naengmyeon, hot naengmyeon or bibimbap. All of these come with a serving of Kalbi. The Kalbi was amazing. No bones but perfectly seasoned. It was so good. It was also really cheat like 4,900 won. ($5 which is less than the vanilla latte I am currently drinking) Naengmyeon is a korean noodle that looks like this:

imgres.jpg


The restaurant encourages you to eat the naengmyeon and kalbi together. I ordered bibimbap so I didn't do that but it still tasted amazing.


After dinner Stephen had to go back to Seoul. Luke went home and Izumi, Andrea, Jessica, Ekatrina and I went to go check out a CAT CAFE.


A cat cafe is where you go and there are cats roaming around that you can play with. Actually only Izumi and I went up to it because we wanted to see what it was like. There were just cats roaming around and girls that would kidnap them and play with them at their tables. It was 8,000 won for a table (per person) and you get a free drink. We didn't really like cats that much so we went to a different cafe that was like a tree house.


The cafe had different cozy lofts for you to go in after ordering drinks. All the lofts were taken so we sat underneath them amongst pillows and blankets. It's essentially every kids ideal bedroom. I was soooooooo cozy and I had rosemary tea. It was basically the perfect end to the day.


I took the bus home and had a good walk after eating SO MUCH. I went to bed at like 10pm I was so tired. Then I woke up this morning thinking it was Sunday... much to my dismay it was Monday. Luckily I had my Friday Rebecca Black lesson to look forward too. I started regretting making a lesson plan with this song because I have to listen to it like 4 times a class and I have to teach it 12 times. For those of you who want a reminder of what the music video is like here you go. If it makes you guys feel better my unit that I am on right now is weekdays and scheduling so the first part is perfect. Plus they get a glimpse into the ordinary life on young jewish rich girls. It's a plus for everyone.





September 8, 2011

Me and hostbro

I thought my brother was defacing the American flag on his gameboy but then I realized he was making it so he could take a picture of himself with his head in the middle.


September 7, 2011

I don't want to jinx it BUT...

I really like teaching here. Sure, my first lesson was a little choppy but it got better after that and my lessons keep improving.

In 4th grade we are doing "Are you sure?" and Scheduling and I got a kid that doesn't know any English to participate!

In 3rd grade we are doing "This is..." and "S/He's my..." and I pushed them to learn "This is my ______, _______" while at the same time convincing them my boyfriend was Korean pop idol G-Dragon.

My advanced club classes are great too. We played charades for 4th grade and in 5th grade I got to learn about what influences them. (I don't teach regular 5th grade classes but I had a lot of fun with them because they really know English and it's fun to be funny with them).

Hope it only gets better :)

September 1, 2011

What comes after eating a cow's knee?

Getting locked inside your school.

That's right ladies and gentlemen, after working hard overtime (aka after 5pm) I was getting ready to wrap up my last powerpoint, turn off my itunes and shut down my computer. I collected my things leaving my classroom thinking "how lovely it is that I live in a city that they can just leave classroom doors unlocked and no one comes to steal the high tech projectors and TVs. Isn't that just wonderful!?!?!

5:34pm Heading down to my usual exit I noticed that there were no cars in the driveway, no one around the school.

5:36pm I get to the doors and push... nothing. hmmm well it isn't a main exit or anything so I'll just go through the cafeteria... not. Cafeteria doors are locked too. Looks like I'm going back to the 2nd floor in order to leave.

5:38pm try another exit... locked.

5:39pm contemplate calling Leslie to inform her of this hilarious situation in which I am locked in the school. Then decide that I should call my co-teacher... but she lives an hour away so that would just be silly. I haven't even tried to main doors yet.

5:41pm Reach main doors, also locked. Someone's got it in for me. At this point I'm thinking, "I guess I could just sleep here?" That's literally what came to mind first. Then I realized that it's not college anymore and if you get locked in the humanities building you can just save it for a funny story later but now I have an ohma who would come and break the doors down with a fire hydrant just so I could eat cat eyes or whatever is for dinner tonight.

At that point I realized I needed to problem solve it so I checked the windows... they were locked but that was easily undone. Looking around for cameras I heaved myself up in my SKIRT and slipped outside the window. Luckily none of the kids playing outside saw this. Unluckily it had been right through a spider web.

Yep. At 5:30pm Clare Hubbard was locked inside of her Korean school. Guess I don't get paid for overtime.

August 31, 2011

I'm never coughing again.

I've decided that this post needed immediate attention since I still have the taste in my mouth.

Lately, I have been getting a lot of comments on my cough. However, since it is nowhere near the same level as the one I had in Jungwon and I haven't had the same symptoms of actually being sick I haven't done anything about it and written it off as allergies. My family has been commenting but their lack of English has been a good dodge for me. My co-teacher approached me the other day and asked about it, later more teachers ask if it is really just allergies or a cold. I have been living quite fine with the cough but I've been trying to hide it more lately. Today, I have decided that I am never coughing in front of a Korean again.

I was talking to my friend Jake (he just got surgery on his infected toe... like emergency laser surgery and his host-dad got in a car accident the other night... he's totally fine just whip lash!!) on the phone when my little brother came in to announce dinner. I walk downstairs and on the table are 5 bowls of white creamy looking stuff same as a white broth but I could not see what was under it. Next to it was a bowl of rice. As I sat down at the table I touched the side of my bowl to see if it was cold or hot (it's really REALLY hot here and we don't have AC so I thought it would be chilled)... it wasn't. It was hot, fine whatever. They had salt and some leeks on the table that they told me to mix in, as I was mixing the ingredients I found some hunks of meat and what resembled large amounts of fat (I'm literally gagging as I'm writing this) I wasn't really as put off by the fat as I had been in the US because lard seems to be a normal thing to intake in mass here. Whatever, I've had worse. At least I couldn't see any seaweed. My host brother sat at the table for a couple minutes then left (this is the host brother in the army). Mom, dad, Sol and I started eating.

A couple... ok one... bites into the meal I realized that it wasn't quite fat. It tasted rubbery and I hadn't ever had anything like it before. Sol told me to dip it into this sauce so I was doing that with little chunks. Sol was really loving it and mom and dad were just peacefully eating it. I decided that since I was going to have to eat it anyway I might as well just eat it as fast as I could. As I started getting to the bigger pieces my dad asked me how it was. I answered with a smile and a nod my typical response for "I would rather not ever eat this again thank you." He said "do you know_____?" some word in Korean. I shook my head then as he got out his cell phone to translate I started trying to eat faster choking down this rubbery white stuff with other chunks in it, dreading to hear whatever the translation was and bracing for the worst. "Do you know cattle knee?" Dad said right as I got a good bite in. "cows. knee." I literally had to just keep it in my mouth because if I tried to swallow it I would throw up and if I spit it out that would be rude. I had to sit there for a solid minute with it in my mouth as my dad got up and pointed to the paper skeleton with the paper organs that are attachable to show me what the knee was.

Thanks for the visual dad.

"Korean stamina food." GREAT so not even KOREANS like to eat this. "Good for pregnant women" Awesome, because I'm pregnant... "and cough". What. this is happening to me because I have a cough??? "drink, it will make you healthy." I take a spoonful of the broth as Sol is throwing the bowl back and chugging the soup... flashback to Donna's house with the chicken broth in the yellow sippy cup. I would KILL for chicken broth at this point in time. Sol had finished his soup and his mom went to the pot to get more. I'm taking spoonfuls of broth and just drinking it trying not to think about anything then my mom proceeds to plop two cattle knees into Sols dish. I'm not talking parts I'm talking actually knees. The little broth from his previous bowl met with the large knees and splashed up onto his shirt and face.

At that point I couldn't take it anymore and I started laughing because if I wasn't laughing I would be crying and or vomiting. probably crying because that's honestly what I wanted to do. Lucky for me the laugh didn't turn into a cough and mom and dad started laughing too. When Sol picked up the knee and started gnawing on it that's when it stopped being funny and went back to being disgusting.

After a couple more spoonfuls of broth I was like, you know what guys I'm done. I put my spoon in my bowl and my chopsticks over the soup. I informed my family that I just couldn't eat it anymore.

After all the eggs

fish heads

and seaweed

A Korean meal has finally bested me.