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:

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...

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


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.