Friday, April 30, 2010

Greetings!

Hello there friends and family!

Tomorrow is the first day of May. Which makes today the last day of my third full month in Korea. Therefore, perfectly fitting for another update. It's been a few weeks anyway! I think I write this every time, but I really can't believe I've been for for as long as I have. It's really quite crazy. Just to reiterate.

I will start with most recent news first. Yesterday started off wonderful, talked to my best friend, enjoyed a nice conversation session my tutor-ee, Kyeong Min, and then I headed home for a quick bite to eat. Sadly I must share that my apple and peanut butter got the best of me. I quickly finished my lunch when i realized my back tooth had broken. Needless to say the past two days have consisted of two appointments, one root canal threat, a temporary cap, and a future capping ceremony. Lame right? Yea, I don't get worked up over much of anything. Most things ic an take in stride... however I can confidently say I hate the dentist. They hate me too. I didn't think I needed to confirm it on Korean soil, but what do I know?
Two things I can confirm from this experience:
  1. I still hate the dentist. No normal human could enjoy the sound of drilling in your head and the taste of metal in your mouth.
  2. If dentistry can even qualify for being rank-able, Korean dentistry trumps American dentistry ten fold. 6$ for an x-ray. 50$ for a capping procedure. Yea... not optimal, but pretty outstanding considering that is without insurance. I can confidently say that after an hour of pretty intensive work I sit here with no pain. Impressive. (Don't get ahead of yourself though, I still hate you.)
Since writing, I have not just become owner of a new tooth, I also became, for the second time around, the proud sister and auntie to another beautiful girl, Taelyn Elice. She is beautiful. I will, again, shower Skype with piles of accolades because meeting her screen to screen was priceless. Literally. I am so thankful. Don't get my wrong though, I count down the days to hold that sweet thing with my non-virtual arms! Oh man. Moving on.

Some awesome highlights of my last few weeks:
  • Saw Nanta, an internationally recognized Korean production where cooking meets Stomp somewhere between a Korean drama and the reject skits of SNL.
  • Visited a local brewery and enjoyed a BBQ that felt a little like summer and being home. Minus the country music, but i'll take what i can get.
  • Went to a free rock climbing clinic and enjoyed a great morning killing my arms and learning some new technique.
  • Had my first blog published on the Adventure Teaching Travel Blog, which was both encouraging and exciting! Hopefully more to come with that!
Work has been great! My middle school students have been taking their "big tests" and have not been attending academy. Which is nice for me (and for them too I'd assume, unless they really like me, but I doubt it.) Most days the past week I've had my last 2/3 classes canceled. Next week will look similar. May 5th is Children's Day, and students don't have school that day. Our academy will be celebrating them the entire week. Which means movie and munchies for them... and little or no prep for us! Awesome.

I think May will fly bye. The third weekend of May is a three day weekend and we're headed to Gyeounju for a few days of touring and relaxing. Which is going to be AWESOME. The weather is also starting to warm up, so i am anticipating much out-age and exploring this month! My heart will also be back home this month. My cousins will be graduating from high school. My roommates and dear sisters will be graduating from Biola and my Madre will be celebrating Mother's Day.

Again, moving on before my heart gets real sad.

So there it is friends! I am doing well. Life in Korea is chugging along in full steam and I really am enjoying it! I miss my family and friends terribly... but hey... im 1/3 of the way done! : )

God is good. Life is sweet and i am terribly blessed!
Blessings to you all!
-sarah, capa, potts, pottsie,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Morning at the Museum of Modern Art


I work nights. Getting off around 10 somewhat limits my nighttime adventures, and while my weekends are spent exploring parts of Seoul, I’ve decided that my week day mornings are also prime times. Not only do I feel more productive that I would having spent my entire morning finding new podcasts and blogs to follow, I get to experience Seoul in a fresh way. Waking up with a city, in all its morning glory, is worth an occasional early subway trip if you ask me.

Living only 45 minutes from the heart of Seoul, I’m pretty well located to make a weekly trek to someplace awesome, before work that is! Some of you live even closer-- awesome! Set your alarm clock, grab some coffee, bring a book for the subway, and hit the track Jack. Facebook will still be buzzing after work, and we can sleep in tomorrow. There is much exploring to do!

Last week, my destination o’ awesome was the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Mostly because it was free, and some friends of mine boasted about the awesome open air sculpture garden. Which, I have to agree was both outdoor and awesome. (The groaning iron man was by far my favorite.) I learned upon arrival the MOCA is brilliantly located in the beautiful Seoul Grand Park, and was delighted to take in all the recently blossomed cherry trees and other morning fellows on our early walk through the park. Or a hike? It’s hard to tell at times. Seems like people gear up to go for a walk around here. But that’s besides the point.

Seoul Grand Park is home to a lot of attractions. Many of which would make for great morning outings. The natural scenery is quite beautiful, with perfect trails for a short hike, walk, or run, and ample grassy spaces for a nice picnic or book reading session. The park also houses Seoul Grand Park Zoo, a Botanical Garden, SeoulLand, along with the MOCA, all of which, again, are worthy of a visit!

The MOCA, without hesitation, is a perfect morning outing, especially if you’re making the trek alone. Be sure to visit when the weather is nice and you’ll enjoy a pleasant walk through the park to the museum, which is about 15 minutes from the subway station. I spent close to two hours wandering my way around the museum, and it was great. There really is something for everyone. An impressive photography collection of modern and traditional Korean life, and a captivating sculpture exhibit, my favorite being a collection of hands, and a quite provocative painting collection on what I understood to be a depiction of western influences on traditional Korean life. Impressive and definitely worth a visit. On a lighter note, make sure you don’t pass over the Children’s Gallery. However, enter prepared. Mid-week mornings are hosts to school field trips and little children enjoy shouting “wei-guk-in” (foreigner) without any concern for volume control or regard for museum etiquette. Kind of funny. Somewhat embarrassing, but you can handle it. The MOCA is also temporarily home to a special exhibition of Korea’s Artist of the Year 2010, Kiwon Park: Who’s Afraid of Museums, which will be running till the end of May for only 3,000W. I’d allot a little more time to do both portions, but would definitely recommend checking it out.
There you have it. Korea MOCA located in Seoul Grand Park. It’s awesome. For those of you living in SoKo, visit for yourself and I think you’ll agree. For those of you not in SoKo, you'll have to take my word for it. Or visit me! : )

Museum Entrance. Made of wood.

It really is a lovely walk through the park. Hard to see but an air-tram run across the lake through the park.


This little guy welcomes you to the zoo.

The Deets:
Subway Station: Seoul Grand Park, Line 4
Admission: Free, Special Exhibition 3,000W
Hours: March to October 10am-6pm, open till 9 on Saturday and Sunday. CLOSED MONDAYS.
Time Allotment: Travel time + 2/3 hours depending on speed of browse and picnicking habits.
There is a small museum cafe and plenty picnic tables and grass to enjoy a picnic, or pick up some kimbap just outside the subway on your way up to the museum for a perfect Korean picnic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Korean Baseball.


Korean's know how to have a good time. Give 'em a beer (or two and a few shots of soju), some fried chicken, and a few lively friends, much fun is to be had for sure!

Yesterday I went to my first Korean baseball game. The same held true. We had a good time! Beer. Fried chicken. Baseball. It was AWESOME. So awesome. The sheer energy, noise, and devoted fan-ery radiating in the crowd was contagious and for the equivalent of 9 bucks, it was well worth every penny.

We were right in the middle of it all. Centered behind home-plate we had the Doosan Bears' fans to the right and the Lotte Giants' fans to the left, and on fantastic view of an awesome baseball game! I rocked at home team Bears hat, for no reason other than it was the first I found under 25,000w, but I think I definitely scored some cool foreigner points! However, around the 5th inning I was wishing I had chosen the Giants. You see, at the top of the 5th, Giant fans blow up orange plastic bags and tie them on their heads. I have no bloody clue why, but I liked it!

A few observations:
  • You buy tickets. They have seat numbers. However no one sits in their given seats. Unless you're a baseball game rookie. We had veterans in our group, so we knew the rule. Sadly we got booted from our seats around the 5th inning from two rookies who didn't get the "first come, first serve" memo.
  • Jerky in Korea is squid. Not bagged. Not packaged. Just dried madness in the literal shape of flattened squid. Interesting. Next to other game snacks: kimbap, beer, soju. No peanuts. No sunflower seeds.
  • Fans cheer the entire game. Yup. Most players have their own chants. And some of the chants borrow familiar English tunes. Mary Had a Little Lamb. Hallelujah. It's a Small World. awesome.
  • There are many very fortunate looking men at baseball games. There's just something about a man wearing a baseball hat. Gets me every time. : )
  • There are cheerleaders at baseball games. Clad in more strange than scandalous outfits in a humble group of 4. Strange. Very strange.
So there we have it. Another "To-Do List" activity marked off. Another awesome adventure! I don't even know what the score was. But i do know this: I'm a fan of baseball games in Korea and shall be attending another one here soon!

The happy group!


Rachel, Me and Jin


video
Fans are crazy. I had to take a video!


For my SoKo Fellows:
Jamsil Stadium
Sports Complex Exit Line 2(Green Line)
Ticketing and Game Schedule for the Doosan Bears
You can buy tickets at the game. However if you want really good ones, buy online.
Ample Korean snacks are available for cheap outside the stadium, however, you can bring your own food and drinks into the park.



Cheers friends!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Black Day.

If you remember my post titled "For the Love", from a month ago, you'll remember that April 14th is a big day. Step-sister to Valentine's Day, it is a day of lamenting, I mean celebrating, for all the single folk.

April 14th is Black Day and as promised I celebrated. All the single ladies, and one gent, gathered at my place for what was a crazy massive pot of black been noodles (half of which ended up in the trash). And in one accord we partook of a hardly delicious bowl of Jajjangmyeon. I can tell you this, if the sauce sticks to the pan and starts to burn after small amounts of heat, it probably has TOO much sugar for a dinner entree. Just a thought.

Anyway, Black Day... i have two things to say to you:

1. You aren't so bad. Neither is the life of a "solo".

2. I shall never eat Jajjangmyeon again. (looks like i better work on finding myself a man.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

God Answers Prayer.


Next time I'll learn to be a little more specific.

I have a list of things I must do and see in Korea (see tab above). Seeing the Cherry Blossoms is one of them. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure Korean springtime is marked by the beauty of these little buds and I just couldn't miss it!

I had been checking, religiously, the weather maps and planning a perfect time to see them in prime blossom. 5 days later than last year. 4 days earlier than the annual average. Saturday was the day! They said so. We planned it. The sun was going to shine! We'd bike ride in Yoeuido Park and picnic beneath the pink umbrella of springtime. It was going to be epic. I'm pretty sure we would have broken out into choreographed song and dance at the splendor of it all.

Until I checked the weather report. Cloudy. 60% chance of rain. What the? All week it had been spring. 65. Sunny. Delightful spring weather. Why, on my only day off, was it to rain? "Boo," is all I had to say about that one! So I started to pray, "Jesus, please let it not rain on Saturday. Amen." And I continued my weather checking frenzy.

Saturday morning we woke up. It was cloudy. But, no rain. So we made the trek. Cherry Blossom Festival here we come!

Well friends, it never rained on Saturday. And we saw cherry blossoms.
On a grand total of three trees. I must say, it was less than epic.
The display of other cherry blossom fanatics was sad. Huddled around the small grouping of blossoming trees snapping pictures as if they actually caught them in all their glory, was nothing short of embarrassing. I was horribly disappointed. This is not what we've waited for people. Don't be fouled. There's got to be more!

There they are. In all their naked splendor.

The trip wasn't a total failure. I mean, we did take a nice long walk along the river (because we got off at the wrong subway stop). We saw many a romantic couple peddling away along the riverbank, and strolled deflated beneath a sad skeleton of a Cherry Blossom Festival canopy. Next time folks... maybe next time.

I tell you what though, a lesson quickly learned. Next time- I'll be more specific.



(Sarcasm O' Meter= 70% It wasn't that bad! )

The Han River.

The other hopefuls. And the barren trees.


Pretty sweet picture i think!

15 Places to Visit This Decade


The Huffington Post heralds Seoul as one of the fifteen "must-see" international cities of the decade! It's noted for its high fashion and impressive city life, and I think I'll have to agree!

Korea, at least the potions I've explored, have far exceeded all of my expectations. Sure, I didn't have very many, but, in no way did I think it would be as modern and cutting-edge as it is! The art and design culture, as well as the modern/traditional architectural beauty is pretty remarkable. It's quite astounding what a country, a city specifically, can become in a short 50 years following a devastating war. There are still traditional areas and ways of thinking, thankfully so! Tis the beauty of a blossoming country!

But, make no mistake, my friends, the fashion scene is pretty rockin' and the city life is unmistakably impressive! Unfortunately, the pants are still way too short and most eateries favor the height impaired. But, other than that, it's awesome!
Check out the whole story here!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Idioms.



Teaching idioms to non-native English speakers is really funny.

I tutor a kid named David and he's really smart! And when I say smart, I mean smart! His English is almost perfect, and most of the time tutoring means we sit and talk about The Church, international politics, Korean history and about other awesome, non-typical ESL conversation tutoring topics. He's only 16.

Anyway. This week, after the first hour of discussing church discipline (crazy right!), I switched topics and asked him if there were any English words he wanted to know. He said "Yes, slang!"

Awesome. Smart... but a teenage boy nonetheless.

Without any preparation I threw a couple off the top of my head with the promise of a formal lesson to come. My initial sayings of choice...
  • "scoush"- a little bit
  • "negatory"- nope
  • "boat load"- a lot (which led to explaining literal/literally, because a literal boat load full of homework is a pretty funny image)

Then I prepared a formal lesson on idioms. Accompanied with chocolate chip cookies of course.
We learned:
  • "In a pickle." (Again a literal expression would be hilarious! Hence the picture.)
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" (Complete with voice intonations.)
  • "Can I give you a hand?" ("Sure, which one would you like? Right or left?")
  • "I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind." (Again, not literal. And not often used, but necessary.)
  • "Game on! (Which I over heard him use in the staff room. Awesome.)
  • "It ain't over till the fat lady sings!" (By far my favorite.)
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. This came after my class of middle school boys where I played "Can/Can't" Battleship. Teach them English and let 12 year old boys blow up ships... done and done.

The life of a camp counselor gone English teacher.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Trust.


I've been learning a lot in Korea. And like most of you know... i love to write. So when Aurora reminded me to write something for her blog, I couldn't say no. Well i guess i could have... but i had something to write about. Topic of choice... Trust.

GUTS is Aurora's awesome blog. Guest writers have been writing about different topics. She just posted my short piece. Tempting? Good.
Check it out!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Some days you just feel loved! By people who love you and by God!
Man. Today was such a great day! First day of real spring... flats and a sweater all the way! It was beautiful!! I spent my morning at Costco with some awesome ladies! Got to work and was greeted with a love package from my wonderful parents with some Easter love! Seems like i've had to explain what Easter is to people who have literally NO idea. They can't even begin to understand why i'd want to celebrate... but man... do i have reason to celebrate!! I spread some of the Easter love with Robin Egg Whoppers! So, work was great! And to finish it off nicely, my last class was canceled. So i got off early... on a friday!! Does it get any better than that?
Came home and i'm sitting writing some people back thinking about my awesome day and how awesome God is... and the country song "Sarah Smile" comes on.
Oh! I'm smiling alright! Because God is good. Life is good! And i am blessed!

It's a Good Friday indeed!
Thank you Jesus for life! And for all that means!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grocery Shopping in Korea

Grocery shopping in Korea has been relatively painless. I've been able to find most things, some with a litle more effort than others, that I use to cook. I'm not a picky eater. Even being vegetarian hasn't posed as many problems as i tought! Though, it beats the heck out of my why black beans are so hard to find? Anyway, for the most part, it's been rather easy shopping! With a few funny stories of course!

There have been, however, a few items that just perplex me. Some seemingly common, highly desirable items have been either crazy hard to find and too painfully expensive to actually purchase. I don't get it. But let me share a few.

The Bloody Expensive:
  • Oatmeal. A large bucket of plain. No frill oats. 13,000-18,000 won. ($13- $18)
  • Cheese. The cheap kind. A little block. 8,000-9,000 won. ($8-$9)
  • Chunky peanut butter. An patriotic Korean knockoff. 5,000won ($5)
  • Avocados. 4 of them. Rock solid. 12,500 won ($12.50)
  • Asparagus. 3 short, measly stalks. 6,000w ($6)
  • Maple Syrup. In minimal ounce-age. 15,000w ($15)
  • A box of Splenda. 40,000 w. ($40 bloody bucks.)
The MIA
  • Salsa
  • Apple Butter (though i always look- i'm hopeful.)
  • Apple Sauce
  • Whole Wheat Bread. Or whole wheat anything for that matter.
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Bacardi Bottled Mojitos
Anyway, today i made my first trip to Costco. It was good friends. Really good! I didn't buy a whole lot, but now i'm prepared for next time.

My cart consisted of a box of Kashi Go Lean Cereal. Whole Grain Crackers. Pepper Jack Cheese. Coffee. And the only Easter candy i've seen in Korea- Robin Egg Whoppers. I shall be sharing those with the kiddos at school today. I don't think i've ever bought a 5lb bag of candy, but i don't think the kids will have a hard time helping me get rid of it! : )

Some interesting items at Korean Costco.
  • Bulgogi Bakes (like the coveted Chicken Bakes)
  • A gallon of Haagen Daz ice-cream for 20,000 w. YIKES!
  • A small bag of pine nuts for 40,000w. 40 bucks for nuts. NO THANK YOU! I like pesto. But not that much!
  • A box of Dodgerdogs
  • And yes, they have Costco muffins! Those suckers are international!

We finished our successful shopping adventure with a delicious Costco pizza. One i must say tasted very much like that back home. It warmed my heart. (Or shall i say my appetite.)

Viva la Costco!


Rachel. D, and Jennice. And our delightful pizza.


Jennice's packed car. We did well!


My "big" purchase. Minus the cheese.