Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Apartment

   The one wall is decorated with butterflies.

Yesterday, Bryan and I made it to our apartment in Daejeon.  Bryan's co-teacher from Taepyoung Middle School and a teacher from my school, Oryu Elementary School, took us to the apartment.  From what I understood, my co-teacher was not able to be there due to some other engagement, but supposedly she is my age and very good at English.  I hope she is better with English than the teacher I met, she was very sweet and we talked a lot, but she does not really seem to know where she is going.  She kept saying, "oh, oh, oh, I am so stupid, i not so smart," after we'd get lost, and after a while I started to agree with her...Really, she was so nice and I told her we should go out together, but why doesn't she know how to get around her own city? Also, she took us to Costco for lunch which was bizarre...oh well, I do not mean to sound whiney or ungrateful because she was a great deal of help.  She also thinks that Bryan is a very handsome guy and she kept saying how she envies our relationship because she has nothing!  Geez, I started to feel really bad after a while because of some of the things she would say:

"I have too much work to do!"
"I come to costco everyday and eat pizza! I am a big piggy!"
"Today I am going to get the hot dog set."

Just things like that.

Anyways, the landlord of our apartment is a professor of Micro-Biology at the Hye Cheon University.  His English is pretty good but it was definitely interesting to meet him.  He wore a suit, purple shirt, purple-patterned tie, a fedora, and in order to match his face to his color scheme, he had a giant shiner over his right eye.  I wish I took a picture of him.  

I cannot help but think that EPIK tried their hardest to save some money on us because our apartment is clearly meant for one person.  It is kind of like student housing and it is smaller than a studio apartment in Minneapolis.  However, a lot of students from the near by university live here so it is nice to see younger people around.  

The bathroom is teeny tiny.  Yes that is the shower above the sink and toilet.  Koreans are good at working
 with condensed spaces.  Our co-teachers taught us about wearing bathroom slippers and I took a shower this morning and I really think it is not so bad, but I do miss having a bath tub.  Am I supposed to have a special towel to wipe the toilet down after a shower?  One thing that is not really talked about is the fact that people here do not put toilet paper into the toilets.  In most public bathrooms there are garbages next to the toilets containing used t.p. which actually kind of freaked me out a bit, but whatever. Apparently the plumbing is to blame.  So I do not know if we are supposed to follow this or not, but I have not.  At least we do not have a squatter toilet.

(Ooo! Project Runway Korea is on t.v.! That is much better than the fat people show that was on earlier.)  

The kitchen has a small fridge, a hot plate, a sink and a washing machine.  They really knew how to bend the rules because we were promised a gas range stove, but it is down the hall with the water cooler.  We do have free internet provided, an air conditioner, ondol heated flooring that gets the place all cozy, and cable access television.  So, I cannot complain really except for the fact that Bryan and I have to live in one room together for a whole year, he has been snoring a lot lately;) Right now we have a lot of wet clothes drying on the floor because there is no dryer but it is all part of the steps we are taking to feel at home here.  

Today, we spent the day roaming around downtown.  It was fun. We ate sullungtang and Bryan almost got pressured into buying some $280 shoes by the aggressive salespeople of the Say Two Department Store.  Those shoes were hottie tottie and even though the salesman told us he could buy them for $100 cheaper, it was still too much.  Sorry!  

So we just got back a little bit ago, I am going to try to work on a lesson plan for Monday because I am getting kind of nervous about teaching.  The amazing thing is that my school put together a brand new English Fun Zone!! Brand new boards, brand new desks and chairs, and brand new everything.  The rest of the school needs to be updated, but it has a lovely smell of cedar.  So, I will be in that classroom all the time instead of moving from homeroom class to homeroom class. NICE!

Bryan is hungry so we are going to grab a bite at the place across the way! Later dudes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yesterday (now it is a couple days ago)was our big time field trip to the Korean Folk Village.  The trip started out with me basically revealing my disinterest in the random girl next to me on the bus, as I slipped on my iPod and nodded off into nappy time.  The one annoying thing about these kinds of ori
entations is that everybody feels like they absolutely have to talk to each other.  I do not feel that way. I hate small talky and I no talky with you just to feel like a part of this yuuuuge organization.  Enough negativity though..about the folk village!

The village was about an hour outside of  my current city of Cheonan.  We arrive and met up with some Korean guides, who spoke excellent English.  Our guide was very funny and engaging.  He cracked penis jokes and made sure everyone got a chance to humiliate themselve in the royal punishment doohickey. 

 There was a giant gathering of stacked stones bound by thread.  The guide described the structure's resemblance as unity of people and nature, blah blah.  Many people write wishes on pieces of paper and tie it onto the strings.  I wrote a wish for my sister and attached it quickly before the group ran away.  I ate some sweet rice taffy candy as we walked through the old housing structures.  We learned more about ondol flooring, which is the ingenious Korean heated flooring system.  i have ondol in my dorm room.  It is awesome.  

Then the best part came, when we got to eat.  The program gave us lunch money, or as Sarah calls it "glunch money", in the amount of 10,000won, or $10.  That 10,000won got me a delicious meal of denjang chigae with 5,000won
 to spare!  The denjang chigae was not as different as I have had before, but it did have enoki mushrooms and little tiny oysters instead of the cheap button mushrooms and baby shrimp that "KC" dishes out.   There were about six old ladies working their butts off, serving up bubbling hot soups in black crocks.  We ate outside, in the middle of winter.  I did not even notice the cold since my soup was scorching hot! Nice and toasty.

Then with some of my remainder money, I bought some roasted chestnuts from a little lady.  So delicious and hot!  Bryan and I walked around the village before all the fancy performances.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of Korean families at the village.  I never would have thought to go to a folk village in the middle of the winter time, but it was full of people.  I crossed the river on a scary narrow bridge, my knees started to shake since I was kind of nervous!  Then the performances began, I had already seen similar Korean dances and entertainment so I was impressed, but not completely in awe.  Drum and dance groups, see saw acts, old man on a tight rope, and equestrian tricks.  The best guy was the "ring master" during the horse riding tricks, he had this silly smirk on his face every time he cracked the whip.  

For now, I do not want to talk any more about the village, it was a tourist attraction for sure, and though I enjoyed it, it felt like a weird disney land. haha.

ok so I started this blog days and days ago, but got lazy with it. I promise I will keep it updated more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The 1st Scatterbrained Blog

After a long flight of 14 hours, Bryan and I made it to Korea. I will spare the details on the flight itself only because it's usually the same experience as anyone else who's flown economy class across the world. Constant feeding and noisy children. Ok, so now that I think about it, there were some interesting details to my flight. I have not been on an international flight in quite a while, but it is amazing the changes that have been made. The in-flight movies were free and accessible through a personal touchscreen. I watched "Annie Hall" which I had never seen in its entirety so since I had the time, I got to watch the whole thing. I also watched "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"...not so good. It was one of those movies Sarah and I would declare "embarassing". The whole "where's fluffy?" thing just grossed me out. Then, I tried to watch a docu about the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It put me to sleep which was what I needed so I was thankful. The one really off-putting part of the flight was that the young man behind me had the worst smelling socks and he rested them on the back of my chair so I could smell his stinky feet for too long. I am getting off topic.

Anyways, so when we arrived at the airport, we were about to go through customes and looked up and saw our old friend Dong Hyoung Kwon waving at us. He does computer security at the airport, so he was able to meet us when we landed! How cool. We know Dong Hyoung from a language tandem program through the U of M. He helped Bryan and I with our Korean language and we helped him with his English. His English has improved a great deal since the last time we saw him! It was nice having him at the airport because he helped us figure out where we were going and all that business.

(Is this the most boring blog ever? I appreciate feedback!)

So, from Incheon Airport, we had to take a bus all the way to Dankook University. Which has 2 campuses, one in Seoul and one here in Cheonan. Rumor has it that EPIK moved the orientation to Cheonan because people were getting too wasted in Seoul during the first week here. haha, of course stupid foreigners have to ruin it for everyone. However, the city here is quite beautiful. There is a lake across from the school and beyond that is some mountainous areas with big highrises plopped right in the middle of them! It was snowing here our first day and at the school it was graduation day. There were lots of families taking pictures of bright-eyed graduates, with puffs of snow all around. It was nice! This school must be private because it is pretty small and the dorm rooms are very nice. I share a dorm with a young lady named Josie, she is from Great Britain and I am so happy to say,that I could have had MUCH worse for a roommate. There are a lot of weirdos here and my roommate happens to be a very genuine and cool person. Bryan and I both got lucky because he has a roommate that is great as well. His roomie is also from Great Britain, the funny thing was that the first night here, Bryan heard his roommate talking in his sleep, "rrgghablala....NIGEL!...boaarrrgh". We both got lucky with the roommate situation for sure.

I have met a lot of neat people so far. There is a couple from South Africa, a woman who had already been teaching in Korea so she had a couple tips for me, some more Korean adoptees, a pompous "real" korean guy, an American couple from Pittsburgh who were looking for a change of many people!

So far, nothing really eventful has occurred. Some medical exams, an awkward opening ceremony, luncheons in the cafeteria...that is why I will end this blog for now. I do have to get up bright and early to have an x-ray of my lungs taken. It is a test for TB which to us Americans was so absurd because TB seems to be an illness of the past, but we must obey or no alien registration card for you!

I miss my sister. I miss honeycrisp apples. Already.