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.

August 26, 2011

Downtown Cheongju

So last night Dan and I went on our first bus ride in Cheongju! It was actually super easy we are like 5 stops away from downtown so my sister told me what buses to take, how expensive it was, and where to get off. It was kind of cool like a miniature Myeongdong. There were a lot of shops and some movie theaters and a lot of coffee shops.

We walked around and stopped in some places then decided to see Hangover 2 which was awkward because none of the Koreans were laughing at all and Dan was laughing a lot.

Tomorrow is my friend Crystalyn's birthday so we are all meeting downtown to celebrate! Will let you know how that goes.

Today I find out my school schedule! yayyyy.

August 25, 2011

Grave Management, Temples and Baseball Games

I have pictures :)

Ok actually apparently Blogger doesn't want to upload my photos SO I have added the URL of my facebook album and changed it to everyone so even if you don't have a facebook you should still be able to see it:

Let's go through the day (3 parts)

I. Grave Management
At 8am I woke up for breakfast after a night of drinking with my sister and co. I only had a slight headache when I sat up so we were good to go there, I walked downstairs to get breakfast with the family and saw that there were boxes of food and lawn upkeep tools by the door and no breakfast. Ohma said something to me so I nodded and smiled and walked away (it had something to do with breakfast I don't know) so I took this time to change into some normal clothes not knowing if I had time to take a shower or not but my sister had just gotten out of the shower so I decided to just put on clean clothes I had no idea what I would be doing so I chose shorts and a nicer t-shirt. Sol came in to tell me breakfast was ready so I went downstairs where we had breakfast as usual then I helped Ohbba pack the car (btw this english spelling of Korean words can be completely wrong I'm just typing it as it sounds). My sister last night had said something about us sleeping in the car so when we got in the car I stayed awake for a while as we drove through the city but Ohbba kept telling me I looked tired and I was encouraged to sleep soooooooooo I did.

I woke up a couple times during the TWO HOUR CAR RIDE to the middle of nowhere, South Korea and to find myself in a small town, the middle of rice fields then curving through a mountain. Each time I was like, we have to be there soon... right? The mountain part was making me a little car sick so I went back to bed then woke up as the car stopped behind two other cars, on the side of a narrow dirt road, on the side of a mountain, in front of a field growing something that wasn't corn or rice or tomatoes. We unpacked the car and I could faintly hear voices coming from somewhere behind the field so we started walking towards it, I looked for a path and saw nothing but a mudslide which my mother started charging up. Let me tell you something, I was wearing flip flops but then was told to change into rainboots and it is a miracle that I didn't fall on my face into the mud because there was NO traction. A short walk around a the field and a turn around some bushes and we came across 3 mounds in the earth and 4 Koreans raking up grass. They turned out to be the brother of my dad, his wife, and my dad's aunt. Their reaction to me ranged from not caring to excitement. Jihyea and I were told to essentially go sit up on a hill somewhere (which we did) and were then attacked by bugs. Sol was trimming some bushes then came and we played cards. More and more relatives arrived to help with "Grave Management". It was funny because when we first got there I thought the uncle had been smoking then in an attempt to hide it threw the cigarettes onto the grave but it turns out that they were for grandpa, and G Grandpa and G grandma.

After everyone had gotten there and the graves had been managed some of the aunts put food out in front of the Great Grandparents. The men all then went and bowed to them a couple times. I then had to go up with the women and do the same thing.... kind of awkward because I don't think Grandma liked that very much.

We did the same thing in front of Grandpa's grave this time my dad took pictures (see facebook!!) After all the bowing we went to the top of the graves and ate... a lot. as per usual. While eating one of the cousins threw a FIT. I don't know what it was over but he was screaming and crying and threw a frozen water bottle which tipped over and started spilling on the mats... My mom gave him a death glare which was really funny for me but his parent's didn't really do anything... actually they for real didn't do anything. THIS MOMENT I realized how lucky I was to have the family that I have. Some of the ETAs have talked about their spoiled siblings and I cannot imagine living a year with this kid. After we ate the boy cousins and Sol went down to the cars and Jihyea and I followed. We stayed there until the older relatives started coming down with boxes but when I asked if we should help Jihyea shook her head so I just tried to help load cars.

My dad told me we were going to an aunts apartment for an hour so we did that which was nice because I got to see what the inside of an apartment looked like. My dad was amazed at their wine selection and how much clothes they had. At the apartment I ate (and then drank, VERY sloppily, as in spilt it all over myself) black garlic. I guess it wasn't that bad for eating it raw then drinking it... I don't know. They said it was good for me and I have this chronic cough in Korea that I'm trying to get rid of so I did it. I also got to eat chocolate and walnuts though so that was nice. My family then told the relatives we had an appointment (this word is gold here, if you have an appointment everyone understands). They were given loads of food and then we packed into the car for our next stop which turned out to be...

II. Temple!!
A thousand year old temple!! We stopped the car and I was like... this isn't home... dad told me to bring my camera and I was asked if I knew about temples. I told them I took a buddhism class but I don't think they cared but they DID want to show me the temple. My dad was joking that we were doing it Korean Style, (the way he likes his coffee too) where we go in see it then leave. That's basically exactly what we did. That and take pictures. haha but I was glad because we had our first Korean family photo! Actually my other brother wasn't there but I don't know him yet.

After pointing out some flowers and another statue we piled into the car for our final destination.

III. Baseball Game Hanwha Eagles vs. Samsung Lions
Jihyea, Sol and I got out of the car at the baseball stadium, tigers hats on and met up with Juyoung and a new friend who I actually don't remember his name. We bought some chicken then went into the stadium to find that there were NO SEATS. Literally. People were sitting on the ground and on the steps so we went with it and sat down on the steps right by the batter and it was great! The Eagles were the home team and losing until the last inning when they got to runs and we beat the lions! yay! That was a nice end of the game except then it started RAINING. which sucked. Especially when you have a cough. So at 11pm we all got into the car, dropped the friends off then went home. When we got home my dad informed me that I get to sleep in until whenever I want which turned out to be 11:30am :) solid.

So that was my yesterday.

Today not much has happened except as I was typing this a woman I don't know came up to my room and gave me trailmix. RANDOM.

Dan and I are also going to try to find downtown today so we'll see how THAT goes.

Look at the photos!!

Meeting up with Dan

In the town that I teach at there are 13 ETAs.. 3 are on the outskirts and 10 of us are in the city. Dan Hayes who went to Eastern Michigan (crazy that the two people from Michigan got placed right next to each other) teaches at the all boys high school right across the street from my school and we finally met up two days ago.

Because he is teaching and I am not I waited outside his school for him to get done with this classes (he gets out at 3 but he told me the boys stay there until 10 studying!! ahh!!) We then walked around the area a little bit, went to Dunkin' Donuts then to his apartment so he could change out of his teaching clothes. I didn't go in because we don't know the whole friends over routine yet so I stayed outside and read on a bench, after we walked to one of the 7 Paris Baguettes a cafe chain here and I got a sandwich because I told my family I would eat dinner and I was tired of being STUFFED then we started walking back to my house because I told my sister I would be back at 7:30 so we could go out with one of her friends. As Dan and I were walking my parents saw us and decided to force my sister to invite him along the whole thing was very amusing. So we (the whole family, Sol included) got into the van then were dropped off at a part of the city I don't know and met Jihyea's friend Juyoung (a guy who was in her grade at school but was older because he'd already done his army years) so Dan, Jihyea, Juyoung and I went to a bar like place which was fun because we just drank and I didn't have to go to a Norebang because Juyoung doesn't like them!! :)

Two important things happened that night
1. I found out that I don't have a curfew which is amazing BECAUSE a lot of ETAs are given curfews by their family
2. My sister and I bonded and that's awesome

We came home at 1:30 but then Jihyea and Juyoung went out to meet MORE friends but I went to bed because I was told that tomorrow we would be going to the graves of family members so not knowing what that meant, what I should wear, when we were leaving I went to bed.

Just call me Santa Claus...

A couple days ago I gave my family their presents which included:
-Black and White Archer Farms mix
-Trail Mix
-tigers hats for Jihyea and Sol (My sister=Jihyea my brother=Sol EE, Sol for short)

We played some games of Jenga which was very amusing especially because if the person lost we had to hit them on the back? I didn't lose it was extra motivation...

August 22, 2011

Apparently seaweed is my new favorite food...

This morning I woke up to yet another bowl of seaweed soup. I'm starting to think that my family believes that seaweed=rice in the proportion it should take up in a meal. I mean, I can take my seaweed but this is starting to get a little ridiculous. I said the first day that I didn't like seafood but apparently seaweed doesn't come from the sea... THAT'S OK. really. As long as it is low in calories because I HONESTLY cannot eat anymore. All we do here is eat. I'm now convinced that Koreans have super human metabolisms.

Today after breakfast I went to school ^^ yay!! And I watched one of my co-teachers (Mirim, the same girl that picked me up from the school) for 2 of her classes during summer camp. After that we briefly met the principal who was impressed I could write/speak a little in Korean. Then Mirim, Minah, and the director of the school's research program went to lunch and had ITALIAN!!! No seaweed involved. And man did we have a lot. There was a plate of spaghetti, a plate of fried pork, a plate of steak and vegetables and a whole pizza then afterwards we had coffee. I'm thankful because I think the Koreans here understand my constant need for caffeine after every meal. Speaking of coffee I just spilt it all over my skirt and cell phone. good job clare.

After the meal we went to a baby clothes store which was very confusing for me because I didn't know why we were going then we tried to open a bank account for me but that didn't work because I didn't have my passport so I have to ask my sister if she can help me do that tomorrow. We exited the bank then got back into the directors car where I was taken to the hospital. My thoughts were "oh great, they noticed my old man who's been smoking for 50 years cough and think they were given a sickly English teacher" but then as we got closer I realized it was a woman's hospital. We went to the 7th floor where I then met another English teacher who was wearing a hospital gown. She is currently out of commission because she JUST GAVE BIRTH YESTERDAY to a baby named "Holy Warrior" who has a whole lot of hair for a baby if you ask me. Lucky for me I didn't have to hold it so I also didn't cough on it. I did have to awkwardly sit next to my half naked co-worker though. She informed me that she was in labor for 32 hours then asked me how many kids I wanted after I was married. Hello new friend, I am not in the right mental state to be thinking about marriage and children right now I am sitting next to a naked Korean woman and I still don't have a bank account.

I was relieved of the awkwardness of the situation when visiting hours ended and I was able to finally return to school. I was going to walk and find a stationary store then sit at one of the cafes I had seen earlier but one of my co-teachers insisted on showing me where everything was which really bothered me at the time since I feel that I haven't had any alone time in awhile but she was only doing it to be nice so I am thankful she did that.

Now I am sitting in a nice cafe with a lovely very expensive mocha frappacino that I splurged on because, hey, I deserve it. I am trying to connect with one of the ETAs in the area. We are so close (as in our schools are literally across the street from each other and he is probably in one of the apartment buildings within 500 meters of me because that's where everyone lives) but we are also very far away from each other because he doesn't have a cell phone yet and we don't know the area very well. It's crazy!!! I want to meet up with the other ETAs in the city too but I don't even know my address so I don't know how a Taxi would be able to take me home when I get lost... which is inevitable. Mostly, I am grateful that I am by myself in a cafe.

August 21, 2011

Picnic & Late Night Stroll

Last night after dinner the family and I went for a walk around the city so I could figure out where things were then we stopped by a mart so that we could buy some BEER and fruit which we later ate.

Today my sister and I made kimbob (that's right I made kimbob) and we and the family took it to a national park where we walked around and went into all the little nature museum things. We walked around for a while then sat down for a picnic it was very nice except my brother kept pointing out all the scary spiders to me. There were a lot. I am planning on stealing pictures from my dad soon so I can post them :)

August 19, 2011

something else to add, I have 7 chicken brothers and sisters.

seriously I do.

August 18, 2011


I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in forever but we were in Seoul at Korea University and then we came back and had to do all this closing stuff and NOW I'M AT MY HOUSE WHERE I WILL BE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR SITTING ON MY BED THAT'S MADE OUT OF STONE.

that's right. I have a bed made out of stone, it's supposedly really expensive and good for my health.

Also, my family is super religious and I accidentally told them I was Catholic and now I think I have to start going to church again.

But I have more siblings! I have a brother who's in the army who I haven't met yet and a sister who's in college who I also haven't met yet but I also have an 11 year old brother in 4th grade and he is awesome except he told me the house was "spider central" so that might not be so great.

Did I mention I have a stone bed?

Ok so departure day was really crazy. The OCT kept telling us what it was going to be like but obviously you don't know what it's like until it happens. We woke up really early and had to clean out our rooms and move our luggage into the taekwondo room and then we went and got announced to in front of all the principals and co-teachers who would run up and give us flowers and stuff (don't worry mine didn't do that and only my co-teacher came because the principal and vice principal were busy). THEN we had lunch with our school companions and I really got along with my co-teacher she is very sweet and nice. Afterward they had a meeting so we could say our last goodbyes on the first floor then after the meeting they just swarmed us and started dragging us away from each other and I was watching my friends being ripped away from me and we don't have cell phones and we weren't sure about our homestay and oh my goodness it was so dramatic.

So I got in my car with my co-teacher and we talked for a while then she told me I could take a nap so I did because it would be awkward anyway then we got to the school were I met the vice principal and more teachers then we went to go get my phone!! so now I can text Leslie. After that they took me to my homestay then we talked for a while and my co-teachers helped me unpack then they left and my family and I went to dinner then we went to E Mart which is essentially target to get me some things then we came back and they essentially told me to shower. so I did. then I sat on this stone bed that I have now.

I don't start teaching until September 1st so we'll see what I do until then. probably nothing. BAH

This is crazy.

August 10, 2011

Korean Final!

YAY! Congratulations ETAs we have finally finished (kind of) Korean classes.

I had my four hour final today which consisted of one hour of reading, one hour of writing, interview and role play. blaahhh!! My teacher told me I did very well. He told a lot of people that though, but our class is the best soooooo typical. We still have our final project which is a video, ours is almost done we just have one more scene to shoot then we have to edit.

This weekend we are going to Seoul for graduation at Korea University! On Friday we will go to the DMZ then the ambassador's pool party... except I don't think it's really a pool party. Saturday is a free day Sunday we have something else that we're doing that I forgot and Monday we have graduation at Korea University!! I could pee my pants over all the excitement except that I'm also really sad becauseeeeee

... we only have 8 more days of orientation :( I never thought I would get close to any of the people here but now I am officially in freak out Clare mode where I act crazy all the time for pretty much no reason. blahhhhh I'm glad I'm going to be close to Leslie but there are still so many other people I won't be by and it's not even just my close friends it's all my other friends that are awesome that I haven't been able to get close to yet... I NEED MORE TIME!!! blah. That's my life right now. Sorry I haven't written in awhile this Korean Final pretty much took over my life.

Oh, also on Saturday I took a cooking class with Lucy so I can make two Korean dishes now! wohoo I'm on my way to Korean domestication. Now all I have to do is clean my room...

August 2, 2011

Another New Post (there are 2).. SEOUL

So this past weekend Leslie, Liza, Lucy and I went to Seoul and it was great because we had a translator (Leslie) and a tour guide (ME!!!). It was so weird to be back!! Although we didn't have enough time to go back to Korea University I will be able to go in 2 weeks. I remembered how the subway worked and how to walk to Insadong from Dongdaemun and it was sooo fun.

First we went to Myeongdong and went shopping in the outdoor mall like place and I took them to my favorite store (A Land) and it was so great :)

Then we got a hotel in Dongdeamun the fashion city of Seoul and walked to Insadong to get little souvenirs and have dinner at an INDIAN RESTAURANT. I almost peed my pants of excitement. After dinner we walked back along the river to Dongdaemun and sat at a coffee shop for like 3 hours waiting for the 1am fashion market to open up. It is famous for being super cheap and super chic because that is when all the knew cloth shipments come in. HOWEVER after waiting for so long we found out that it wasn't open on Saturdays/ moved to a different place. but there were still a lot a lot of stores open and Lucy and I were very slap happy so I still had a good time looking at all the funny spirals.

At 2:30am we went back to the hotel and slept in until 10:00, had breakfast at a coffee shop in a department store then went back to the bus terminal. All in all, a successful weekend.

I can't wait to go back in 2 weeks!!

The moment we've all been waiting for...

Where I've been placed!! I will be in Cheongju which my mother has kindly researched for me because I am too lazy to do much research. why? I have no idea since I'll be living there for a year you would figure I would want to know what there is to do however... I guess that's just not the way I fly. I do have some fun facts about it from conversations with people past.

Fun Facts!
1. My school!!!
My school's name is Namseong Elementary School it is a public, co-ed school and the website address is feel free to visit it then let me know what's on there.
I will be teaching grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 along with an extra club class which is actually more of an "advanced class". I will be at school for 5-6 hours a day and teach 18-20 classes a week. I will have around 600 students altogether. We'll see how well I remember their names... There is a mandatory national textbook that I will have to follow but Jenna (who was there before me) told us that she used it minimally. My school is an English research school with AMAZING resources except that when people come to film there they tend to put on a show... awkward. My daily attire will be business casual (a polo and khakis so the sheet says) and I will have to wear sandals.
I actually visited this school already and Jenna and I are pretty much the exact same person. It's weird... haha but funny. I probably have one of the best elementary schools so I'm really happy about that. Also, Jenna tells me that there is a lot of competition to host the English teacher every year which probably means I will get a sweet awesome living arrangement.

2. Cheongju
As Monica emailed me "Chungju Lake is the country's biggest multi-purpose dam that links together Chungju and its neighborhoods. It is a manmade lake with a vast body of water. Woraksan Mt and Songnae valley are located nearby. Additionally, this area has cherished cave area/springs.[3]In 2013 it will host the 2013 World Rowing Championships." I guess I'll never be able to get away from rowing... cool.
Cheongju is also the home of 4 Universities which means there will be lots of people my age, there is a fortress wall that you can hike around and Korean classes are offered and some of the Universities. There are also a lot of good gyms and a mountain right outside of the city. It's considered to be suburban however it is a big city. Just not as big as Seoul... duh. It is also an hour away from where I am right now and 1 hour away from Seoul. I will be 40 minutes away from Leslie, 1.5 hours away from Lucy, 40 minutes by plane from Liza (she got Jeju!) and 2 hours away from Paddy and Jake (mom, dad and the strikes met Paddy).

Feel free to leave comments about other reasons why Cheongju is awesome!