Dear foreigner friends,

Missing Pandora and all your favorite music? Korea has pretty good music. I mean Psy is epic. But if you're missing your collection of Western music since Pandora isn't supported in Korea, you need Jango.
The other night I was visiting with friends and commented on the music playing in the background. Sounded like my Pandora radio station back home. Well it was Pandora's cousin, Jango. I like it even better. Now, when I come home and help Patrick with dinner, we listen to Ryan Adams and Andrew Bird and all our indie bands and all is well again. Mornings are better too. Music is food for my soul. I'm so thankful I was introduced to Jango. Check it out! > Jango.com

Sign in with Facebook and create stations. They'll ask you to add artists to the variety, rate independent artists, and they'll even ban a song if you don't like it. Currently I'm listening to Rogue Wave Radio and... K-Pop Radio. Couldn't resist.

This is the current K-Pop obsession, besides Gangnam Style, of course.



Chuseok and stuff

Hello friends and family!

I haven't written in awhile because I had another cold. It's getting pretty cool here and I'm dealing with it the hard way. I'm okay now and I'm also a little excited. I finally realized that I do in fact have a deviated septum. I diagnosed myself via Google. It's a $4,000 surgery to fix it back home and only a couple hundred here. I'm going to look into it further once I get my insurance card. I think this will cure my chronic sinusitus and I'll basically have a better life. It's an in and out procedure and it'll only be about five days to fully recover. I'm hoping this will happen at this exact time next year when I have a week off for Chuseok. This holiday is HUGE! It's the Korean Thanksgiving. This means everyone goes to their grandparents' or parents' homes to celebrate together, eat food, and give thanks  to their ancestors. For us foreigners, this means we'll be living in a ghost town. Everyone is gone for the holiday, businesses close down, basically the city is put on pause. We can take city buses or subways and don't have to worry about crowds. This is a big deal. We have big plans.

This weekend Patrick and I joined friends on a little journey to Seoul. We met with other English teachers from all over the area to teach private lessons. This volunteer job gave us the opporunity to work with North Korean refugees. Some children were born here and some came with their parents from the north and all of the adults are from the north. We saw a few handfuls of children and one adult. I worked with a little boy who was very sweet yet shy and later a little girl whos mother ran the program. It was an amazing experience. We helped them with lessons from workbooks then played games. I was completely owned at UNO but I helped them speak English!!!

After we finished for the day we ran around different parts of Seoul. This place is by far the busiest place I have ever visited in my life. My trip to NYC in March was nothing compared to Seoul. We found a little Indian restaurant for dinner, chicken tikka masala!!!, then ventured off to Insadong to explore the traditional market. I bought a little paper hanbok card to send home for ₩3000. My Mom is going to love it! We were introduced to the two college kids that sell cocktails in a bag on the street. Adult Capri Suns. These guys were precious and also great at what they do. Patrick got a jack and coke and I had the tequilla sunrise. It didn't cure my cold but definitely distracted me for a bit. They love to say "stronger?!" which I refused and Patrick accepted without hesitation. The crazy part is that we just sipped them as we walked around the market. Too bad that can't happen in the states!!

Then we had a nice Sunday buying bulk food at E Mart Traders (like Sams Club) and walked in circles trying to get home on the subway, not. Then we relaxed with some friends and a game of Catan at the Sambu apartments downtown (our future home). Good things are happening!!!

Miss you all!


Pay Day DIY

photo credit regretsy

In celebration of our first Korean pay check I'm posting a DIY from my last week in Missouri. I made an old wallet look a little prettier. I miss Michael's and Hobby Lobby like you'd never believe. Think I'll poke around the craft section at various places this weekend ^^ 

Thanks for reading,


Psy on Ellen

You know you've made it big when Ellen makes you dance on her show! So proud of Psy right now!



Wedding #3

Patrick received an email last week that read something like this:

Any foreigners want to have a pretend wedding? Korean style!!

So he replied : YES! US! PICK US!

And moments ago he emailed this to me:

We get the best souvinere!!!!
"The officer in Chean city hall is going to visit our school on next Tuesday(September 18th) at 15:00 to take your measurements for korean traditional clothes.

Congratulation !!!"
Patrick: "Wedding # 3!"

^My reaction

^What we will look like, but as humans.


Happy Friday

Hey Missouri,

My work day is over and you're still sleeping. Just wanted to share today's highlight. Every lesson I co-teach involves an ESL song. Today's song was.... well....

His voice makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside ^^ No Food Friday today. Wouldn't want to steal this little guy's thunder.

That's all,


Hangul Lessons

Last week my co-teacher told me my head teacher asked if I'd be interested in swapping language lessons. Heck yeah I would! I was (still am) so taken back that an older woman would ask help from me, a younger (lower status in SK) woman... plus I'm foreign. Well I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Everyone I work with is sweet as honey. I've already said that simile before, but really, it's the only way to describe them. So as expected the lessons have been great. It's much easier for her to teach me since she teaches English to beginner students anyway. I'm working from a 1st grade English book, ha!!! What she has requested of me is to help her brush up on speaking English. She knows the basics so I had somewhere to start! Today she asked about family right after she taught me some family names in Hangul.

Father - 아버지 (ah-bo-jí)
Mother - 어머니 (o-mo-ní)
Baby- 아기 (ah-gí)
I - 나 (nah)
You - 너 (no)
We - 우리 (ew-rí)
Our family - 우리 가족 (ew-rí gah-joke)

The G sounds like K and the J is a softer CH sound. And the O is drawn out. 

My turn:
I drew a family tree then labeled everyone -Aunt, Grandma, brother etc. I even went into detail of how divorces change someone's title. Then I talked about how someone passing away gives the surviving spouse the new term widow. I was pretty excited she didn't know the word because all the other stuff was just a review for her. Then I realized I didn't know how to describe it so I drew it. Well, I ended up drawing the husband and wife then put Xs for the wife's eyes: WIDOW! She laughed at me. Then I had the brilliant idea of drawing a widow spider. This completely confused her until I Google'd the spider and explained they killed their 'spouse' and became widows. Improvising!

Am I a good English teacher or what?!?

I love this place! It get's better everyday. Well my Thursday is ending. Missouri is just waking up ^^ Miss you. Goodnight, good morning.




Wedding Trailer!

It's finally here!
 I first saw this via Skyping with my Momma and it was so choppy! I just received the Vimeo link today! We love it so much! I cry each time I watch it! Pat only cried once... he said it was the wind in his eyes. We were indoors. We get the opportunity to sit and watch the whole video then request any changes. Complimentary edit!  Hope you like it.

Dear Friends and Family

All is well in Cheonan. Wish I could share this adventure with you. Love and miss everyone.



My First Week

I did it. I survived my first week as an English teacher. First thing first, I love my job. I love the people I work with, the students are hilarious (and noisy) and my schedule is pretty simple. I was given two schools, Eupsung Elementary (Tuesday) and Seongjeong Elementary (M,W,R,F).

Pictures of Eupsung:

Walking to my room

From the door

Little game/reading nook

From the back of the room

Eupsung Elementary in a nutshell:

20 minutes from my home, 72 students (I see 35), principal, vice principal, and head teacher are all very nice. The principal is younger than the VP and this creates problems because age determines status. I haven't noticed anything yet but time will tell.

I work with one co-teacher, Matt, and he is amazing. His English is next to perfect and he's funny and always ready to help me. The kids are great. I have 6th grade for two hours before lunch and they're not shy but are definitely going through the "I'm a tween and I'm too good to answer questions in class" stage. Then I have 5th grade for two hours after lunch and they're the complete opposite. They were so enthusiastic about everything. One kid cried for reasons I'll never know. When I went to help him he acted helpless and upset so I did my best to get him through his work. Well later, Matt told me he just wanted my attention so he cried for it. Hope he doesn't think he's got me trained... 

But who can resist big crocodile tears?!

Pictures from Seongjeong:

From the back of the class

From my desk

Much more creative decoration than the states, I'd say.

Seongjeong Elementary in a nut shell:

Seven bus stops from my home, located in a rough neighborhood, 600 students, principal, vice principal, head teacher, and the two co-teachers are also very nice to me. Each day is different because I work with three teachers in the four days. I have a desk in the teachers office next to my co-teacher's desk. The head teacher sits at the front of the office next to the vice principal. I spend a lot of time in there because the classes are only 40 minutes and I might have between 4-6 classes each day. When I'm finished with classes for the day I stay in there until it's time to leave at 5pm.

My week! I could write for hours but I'll try to consolidate each day into small paragraphs.

Monday: I met everyone, and I mean everyone. As soon as the bell rang the students gathered in the gym to see all the new teachers. I am one of four but the only one teaching English. So I was asked to speak in front of all 600 students and 30+ staff members. Yikes! It was fine though. When I met the principal for the first time my co-teacher handed him a little piece of paper that I had written about myself. She translated it into Hangul and left a few things in English that didn't really translate (like the fact that I like Justin Bieber... I thought these facts were supposed to be used for the students only hahahahaha). Great. I mean I sort of do but I know these kids love him to death so I want them to think I'm awesome and not scary to talk to. But I'm sure the principal just didn't understand Beiber. He did however understand my degree was art education and he wants me to use art while I teach English ^^ yay!!!
Classes: meeting 6th grade was awesome. I introduced myself with a powerpoint then gave them 'cookies' for remembering different facts. Then we moved into the lesson. My job is to help student pronounce things like an English speaking American. Pretty simple. I didn't meet 6th grade class 2 because their teacher canceled their English for the day to teach them morals. Interesting.
I went to the teacher meeting at 4pm to introduce myself again then sat and listened to everyone speak Hangul. I like to make up translations in my head. I think the meeting was about making this semester better than the last and what they need to do to get Psy to perform at their school... yea probably not.

Tuesday: Eupsung- great first day as I mentioned before.

Wednesday: I taught with my head teacher who cannot speak English as well as my Monday co-teacher but she is sweet as honey. They all are. It's crazy how nice these people are. I used the powerpoint to introduce myself, this time to two 3rd grades and two 4th grades. She translated my introduction then helped the students ask me questions. My job with her is to say phrases and key words and have the students repeat me. They are just beginners so they need to know how to say almost everything. I think they learn pretty fast though. Each class usually goes like this: lesson, listen and repeat, speaking game/activity/song. There are a lot of songs used instead of games but the key is to keep the kids interested and actively learning. My head teacher and I figured out the easiest way to communicate with each other is to write to each other. She understands English the same way I understand Spanish, reading and writing. 

Wednesdays @3pm = teacher volleyball. I was asked to bring a change of clothes for the game. I figured the game might be a little serious but I had no idea what to expect. Let me tell you how I gained popularity on my second day at Seongjeong: owning my spot at the back of the court. I think they were surprised I was any good. I mean I've had my practice during sand volleyball games at William Jewel but I don't know too much about the actual game. They play 'Korean style' which means they can use their feet. Weird and not fair. I dove for a ball and instead of hitting the floor, my teammate and I smacked into each other. Also a good way to gain popularity, that kind of stuff is pure Korean humor.

When the ten games are over we go to teacher's dinner. I'm going to keep this brief because this could be it's own blog post. I think Wednesdays are the highlight of my week. Korean style teacher's dinners are like mid week social gatherings that bring the teachers back to life. No students, no stress, no work. We went to a Chinese place and had an entire room to ourselves. We sat on the floor the entire time. I'm  used to this by now but we stayed for two hours or so and my legs started cramping. Seating order: head table seats the principal, vice principal and new teachers. Great.
I sat with my Monday co-teacher and my head teacher and some very social people. Most people avoid the head table because the high status of the P and VP make them uncomfortable. Plus sitting next to me means they might have to speak English, also uncomfortable. There were tons of plates with little snacks like kimchi and billions of bottles of soju. Once everyone was present we all poured each other soju or cass (like blvd wheat bear) and prepared for the opening toast. The principal made sure I had something then explained soju to me (in English!!!). He was super impressed I knew what it was already. I was expecting everyone to force soju shots on me but it was the exact opposite. I would say the liquid courage made people more comfortable around me which created a question game. I was surprised to hear all the English coming out of their mouths since they hold back any other day of the week. Let's just say we all learned a lot about each other, I laughed most of the night and I also ate like a queen.
We had spicy sushi (veggies and chunks of raw fish in a big pile) wrapped in sesame leaves< we did this ourselves. Then we all shared giant bowls of spicy fish soup. The head and tail of the fish were floating in the most delicious fish broth I've ever tasted. I was ordered an extra dish, calamari bibimbap, because they were afraid I might not like the soup. I ate both. One teacher tried to explain the fish cheek meat to me, also very impressed that I already knew about it, then he took my chopsticks and dug out the fish cheek and made me eat it. It was tasty! He also randomly took my water glass from me, poured my water in his soup bowl and made me try their traditional Korean tea. It was super sweet but completely satisfied my sweet tooth.
I was waiting for someone to offer me soju because everyone was pouring each other shots about once a minute, except for me. Then to my surprise my VP scooted over to me and said "Teacha Allison?!" and he poured me one, (I drank it while turned away from him, Korean Style) then poured him one. The funny part is my co-teacher told him to pour me a baby one so when I poured him one I said "baby?" and the principal demanded "FULL!" and everyone laughed. Then it was only polite to pour one for the principal as well. So I only had two little soju shots the whole night with a little bit of cass on the side and I was feeling alright. It is impressive how much Koreans can drink and look and act unaffected. It's just Korean style! Once dinner was over we listened to the closing toast and everyone was outta there!!!! I got a ride home from some of the sweet homeroom teachers. Of course I didn't know what to say and they were only speaking Korean. So I just gazed out the window at all the neon signs in my little Korean version of NYC and thought to myself, I love this place!

Thursday: More 3rd and 4th grade classes with my head teacher. She asked me to teach a class because she was worried I was bored. I didn't do too bad! I was supposed to have another class with my Monday co-teacher but the homeroom teacher canceled. I think this might be a common occurrence.

Friday: I met my second co-teacher and spent the entire day introducing myself to all 5th grade classes. There were no lessons; it was all about me. This teacher got her classes to pour out the questions. One class tried so hard to ask me in English and one kid even screamed at me when he was able to ask in English. They were so excited. I've never seen kids to crazy about meeting someone and being able to speak their language. Some common questions from these kids: How tall are you? How much to you weigh? Baby?!?!?! Do you like Zombies? Do you like K-Pop? Do you like Kimchi, do you eat Korean food, can you cook Korean food, what's your favorite Korean food? Do you like Pizza & hamburgers? And the best question was "have you had plastic surgery?" Apparently some Koreans get plastic surgery to make their noses bigger because that's what is attractive. This big Ehlers nose of mine has been getting compliments all week. When Koreans meet someone for the first time it goes something like this: name, age (animal is more common. ex: year of the dragon) to determine status, and a blunt observation about ones appearance. I've been getting tall and beautiful a lot. I think my light brown hair, pale skin, and big American nose are just irresistible ha! But seriously, I'm always taken back when people tell me when they think of my looks. I haven't been able to return the compliments because I'm not used to it yet. 

I'll save Patrick's week for another day since I've already rambled so much. Here is the most popular song in Korea right now.  I think it's made it big in the states too! The singer/rapper is Psy, I mentioned him during the Monday teacher meeting earlier in the post. I tell the kids I love Psy to be accepted, it works.



Food Friday

It's Friday night here in South Korea. ^^ My first TGIF as a teacher! This week was amazing. I have so much to talk about and so little time to sleep. So I'm going to save it all for tomorrow. I promise I'll find the time. Before I get to Food Friday here's a little update:

Patrick has a cold. I diagnosed him with the "new teacher flu." Bad things happen when you're exposed to new germs from three hundred new students in one week (for the first time in your life!!). I paid my dues during La Petite Academy & student teaching/practicum days. I'm solid as a rock now and won't get sick the first month (knock on wood). So since I haven't fallen ill, I have babied him all week. Looks like we're having a fun weekend of movies, plenty of fluids, soup, and rest. On a good note: the weather suddenly cooled down. Missouri doesn't feel this great until October! I love it!!!!!

OK. Food!
Well this week I'd like to talk about meat. Lisa and Cameron (they come up so much because they took a week out of their life to prepare Patrick and me for life in Korea, they taught us so much!) ... anyways, they took us to a place near Yawoori (downtown area) that serves all the meat you can eat. Yup, a meat buffet. Patrick's dream come true. Lisa is a vegetarian and the employees consider her a regular and give her the veggie discount since she isn't really getting the full 10000 worth ($9.50'ish). The best part is you cook your food yourself. It's known as Korean barbecue and it is super delicious and fun. You can stop by this place or go somewhere and sit with just one other person. This joint seems to attract large groups of people. You know all the frozen yogurt places that are popping up in the states? And the bright cheerful paint on the walls? This place looks exactly like that, minus the yogurt and add tons of meat and mesmerizing smells. Welcome to Self Bulgogi. I think that's the name but it is just called self serve buffet of bulgogi (meat) and there were all types of meat (and very raw). Thick fatty bacon, chicken and pork chunks and lots of sea food. One bacon was marinated in a yummy dark wine and some of the chicken was super spicy. The variety never ended.

Tips for beginners:
  • Grab one of each then go back for more.
  • Do not fill your plate with tiny raw octopus... maybe you shouldn't even eat it.
  • Watch your time. Burning the meat creates smoke and then you look like a fool when the employees have to switch out your grill. (we did pretty good and only had it changed once.)
  • Remember to eat the friendly items such as sweet potato dumplings and cheese dumplings. There are fruit and veggie options too.
  • Go Korean style: Meat first (pace yourself), salad maybe, then the watermelon slices and finally, ice soup to end the night. The people next to us were on a new round every time I looked over.

Self Bulgogi

Our table before two more plates full of raw meat were added.

Aftermath (Lisa and I paced ourselves so we were actually feeling great!)

Patrick and Cameron on the other hand... full up to their eyeballs.

Yours truly,