Friday, September 24, 2010

Chusok Fun

Our host and hostess for the day
So today was my favorite day in Korea so far!  It was a very happy day. One of my amazing husband's co-workers, Mr. Kim, called this morning to invite us to his house.  Mr. Kim is the P.E. teacher at my amazing husband's school and we have heard that he is quite good at tennis.  I was nervous beforehand as I was not sure what we had gotten ourselves into, but it all turned out fine.  So he and his 28 year old son picked us up around 11am and drove us to his home (apartment).  We got to watch some WWF (korean style) and met Mr. Kim's wife, Mrs. Cho (they do not change their names here when they get married) and daughter.  They are really nice people.  We spent about an hour cooking for lunch.  (Really we watched Mrs. Cho cook).  We ate japche (sweet potato noddles mixed with a bunch of veggies that have been stir-fried) bulgogi (steak that has been stir-fried with soy sauce, garlic, and onions) and of course rice.  It was sooo good!  How fun to hang out in the kitchen and chat.  We mostly talked to Mr. Kim's son and daughter as Mr. Kim does not know tons of English.  After lunch, we had fruit for dessert and some turkish coffee.

Riding down the mt. in the cable car
Then they took us to Palgong mountain.  We rode in a cable car up to the top of the mountain!  It was so fun - nice fresh air, the temperature was cool.  We could see all of Daegu City, it was really beautiful.  It was really relaxing and fun!  My amazing husband and I are looking forward to returning some day soon and hiking.

I was really touched that these people would invite strangers into their home, cook us a huge meal, take us to see a mountain, and then drive us back home.  They were so gracious and fun to be around.  Theyey really made us feel like honored guests.  We told them that they spoiled us.  It was so nice to be in a kitchen again and see that Moms everywhere in the world are the same. A funny side note: gifts are a pretty big deal in Korea, so we bought a "gift set" from the store for the Kims.  It was a Spam gift set hahahahaha  :)  If you want to see bigger pictures, just click on it.
My amazing husband and I at Palgong Mountain

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What do you do with your trash?

Foreigners that are new to Korea usually ask this question.

Good question - it took us a few weeks to get the trash system completely figured out.  The unfortunate thing is that how you deal with trash changes from city to city and from neighborhood to neighborhood.  The following is how it works for us (in our apartment in our neighborhood in our city).

There are three main categories:

Food - we put ALL our food scraps, peels etc in a clear (emphasis on clear) bag in the freezer.  The bag that you get produce in is a great bag to use.  When the bag is full, we put the whole bag in the "red bucket."  We have a yellow token (some other neighborhoods have stickers) that we put on top of the red bucket.  This token/sticker is important, your food waste will not get emptied unless you use it.  Then we simply stick the red bucket outside of our apartment building on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday (before 7:30 am) and it gets emptied.  If you keep an eye out, you will notice other red buckets, just stick yours near the others.  If you use a not clear bag, then the man will tear open the bag, empty it quickly and leave the bag in your red bucket (it is gross), they think if you use a not clear bag that you are trying to sneak something in, so use the clear bag.  Our red bucket still looks like new and does not smell or look gross.  We have heard that you get fined if you put food in with the trashtrash. *After living here for 11 months, I learned that you are supposed to put eggshells and chicken bones in the trashtrash.  

Ze red bucket (with the lid open)
Recycle - Korea is really into recycling (in my opinion).  We have a big bag that we stick all of our paper, plastic, and aluminum in.  We put the bag outside our apartment and an old lady comes and gets it.  Some apartments have recycling bins that you sort your stuff.  This is the part that took us a while to figure out.  Do not ask about recycling in public.  I am a sinner and throw all my stuff in the largest looking container at Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.  Sorry Korea. 

Trash trash - Make sure you buy trash bags.  The trash bags for our neighborhood are clear/white.  We have seen yellow and orange trash bags in different parts of the city.  Once your trash bag is full, find the light pole in your neighborhood that has bunches of trash bags at the bottom of it.  Set your bag there.  I think trash gets picked up once or twice a week.  There is no "garbage collection" fee, it is covered by the cost of the garbage bags.

Best of luck in your trash adventures.

If you have further questions, shoot me an email or comment on this post

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What is the weather like in Korea?

Americans are really interested in our weather.

I am a Midwest girl all the way - that means I grew up with cold & snowy winters and hot & humid summers.  I would say that the weather is somewhat similar here.

We do not get snow in the winter (this past winter it only snowed 2 times and it was only a couple of inches).  We do have hot and humid summers.

It is sunny in Korea for the most part.  In May and June it rains quite a bit, but we get a few days of sun in between storms.

I hope this answers your question!  If you have anymore, send me an email or comment on this post.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reasons that I love living in Korea

04.07.2011: A little boy brought me some hand lotion today.

04.08.2011:   Me: Do you know where I could maybe find some rain boots?  Co-teachers: well, I don't have any classes this afternoon, so I will look on line for you....

04.11.2011: My rainboots came in the mail today. I love fast delivery service!!!

04.12.2011: The sidepony is alive and well amongst little cute Korean girls.

04.13.2011: On Monday I was craving pizza, we had pizza after school. Today I was craving ice cream, guess who just got done eating some? I love it when people can read my mind and I love Korean snack time!

04.14.2011: the children that use thier rulers while connecting the dots make the math part of my ♥ SO happy

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For future reference...

The Bad Day Plan:
Go outside. 
Take five (or ten, or twenty). Make yourself some herbal tea. Curl up with a favorite book. Just sit quietly. 
 Create. Make something. Write. Photograph. Getting your creative juices flowing and allowing how you feel to come out in your art can help significantly, and doing something constructive and tangible always makes me feel good.
Treat yourself. Buy yourself flowers. Paint your nails. Whip up one of your favorites in the kitchen. Love on yourself a little– you deserve it.
Go for a run.

What do you miss from America?

I miss two things (mainly) from America:

1.) Our family & friends. We have been blessed with great families! We miss hanging out with our families, especially around the holidays. We miss getting together with friends, celebrating weddings, babies, and other special occasions with our friends.

2.) Convenience. I miss being able to go to the grocery store and get everything on my list. I miss being able to ask people for help if I am lost or confused. I miss going into stores and finding other sizes than x-small and size 0 pants. I miss having a dryer. But, we love life here. Each time we have an inconvenience, we remember that it is part of the adventure and that our Savior was inconvenienced to come and show love to us.

The longer we live here the more we miss our family and friends and the more inconveniences we are learning to overcome.

If you have any more questions about life in Korea, shoot me an email or comment on this post.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is church like in Korea?

Americans like to know about church in Korea.

Well, we go to an international (mostly English speaking) church that is on the other side of the city (maybe 45 minutes away).  Our congregation is around 60-80 on Sunday mornings.  I think about 50% of the people that come are Koreans that live here permanently; about 25% are U.S. military families stationed here and the other 25% of us are public and private school teachers (from America, England, Canada, and South Africa).

For the most part, we have visitors every Sunday.  We also have people headed back to the States leave every month.  Thus, there is always new faces to welcome and friends to hug good-bye.

Our pastor is an American who (through military related things) has been here for about 20 years; his wife is Korean.  Our Sunday morning service is in English and most activities throughout the week are in English.

I do not remember what else people ask about church.  If you have any more questions about church in Korea or questions about Korea in general, shoot me an email or comment to this post.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do Koreans eat cats and dogs?

Americans seem really interested in this question.

Koreans do not eat cats. 

Korean men sometimes eat dogs.  (I have yet to meet a Korean woman who eats dog).  It is not for sale in the grocery store.  You have to go to a special restaurant.  As far as I know (i.e. this is very unofficial and purely my opinion)  the older generations eat dog more than the younger generation.

In cases like this, it is important to remember that Korea is a different culture.  If you are reading this and are making judgements, remember that you did not grow up in Korea.  You are seeing this from a Western standpoint.  As I have said many times and will continue to say: It is not good, it is not bad, it is just different.

How long will you live in Korea?

Americans and Korean alike want to know the answer to this one.

We will live in Korea for as long as God wants us to.  I personally (being the planner that I am) think that 2 years sounds like a good amount of time.  We will have to wait and see.

I highly doubt we will be breaking our contracts so we will definitely be here until August 2012.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How tall are you?

I am often asked this question by Koreans with a few moments of meeting them.

I am 173 cm.  My amazing husband is 190 cm.

Koreans are really impressed by this. I have not figured out why Koreans are so shocked.  We have met Koreans that are taller than myself or my amazing husband.  In the last 20 years or so, Koreans have started drinking milk.  Therefore the younger generations are considerably taller than the older generations.  I am taller than most of the woman I work with.  Korean women love to wear heels!  Many times with their shoes on, they are the same height or taller than me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Do you like Korean food?

Americans and Korean ask me this question.

Yes, I do.

You should know that I was raised in a household where you ate every/anything you were served.  If you did not like something, you had to take three big bites (Binks was a stickler about the bigness of the bites).  I am 99.9% sure that my children with grow up with the same rules.

I am not a picky eater.  I will eat something even if it is not the best tasting thing.  I have adjusted to eating spicy food.

But Korean food tastes good!  I love my school lunches.  Most foreigners do not like school lunch, but I like it.  Secret: try everything on your tray and then eat in this order: the worst tasting to the best.  Even if you end up eating rice last, at least you end on a high note!

You are guaranteed several items at lunch everyday: kimchi, rice, and soup.  If something does not taste good, mix it with your rice, and you are good to go.

Beyond school lunches, Korean restaurants are awesome.  They serve really good food.

The only type of Korean food that I do not like is weird seafood.  I do not like entire little fish - including fish eyeballs.  I do eat entire little fish though.  The most important part of approaching a meal from a different culture is an open mind.  I have eaten some disgusting sounding meals that have tasted great!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is your blood type?

I am asked this by Korean children.  There is the "ask the new teacher from America question" time at the beginning of the semester.  Some little kid pops up his or her hand and says, "teacher, what it your blood type?"

The first time I was quite surprised.

My blood type is A.

Koreans (not all) think that your blood type determines your personality.

Hitler had type A blood.  So does Britney Spears.  How lucky am I?

People with type A blood are supposed to be: calm, patient, sensitive, responsible, overcautious, stubborn, unable to relax.  Obviously they hit the mark with this blood type personality thing (not!  I do not think I have ever been labeled calm)

There is also a theory about which blood types should marry other blood types.  But I do not remember anything about it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What time is it?

One of my friends first questions usually is, "what time is it there?"

First of all, there is no Daylight Savings Time in Korea.  So it depends what time of the year it is.  Also, Korea is a small enough country to be on the same time zone (that is, it is the same time in Seoul as it is here).

Right now, it is 9:53am on Saturday here.

In Lima, Ohio, it is 8:53 pm on Friday (13 hours difference)
In Illinois/Iowa, it is 7:53 pm on Friday  (14 hours difference)
In Denver, it is 6:53 pm on Friday (15 hours difference)

Those are the time changes that I do.  If you live somewhere else, sorry.  Post a comment and I will help you with the time zone difference.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What are helpful websites?

This is usually websites that we give to new forgeiners that we met:

Daegu Bus: Click on the "Search point of arrival/departure" and you can get anywhere in Daegu using public transportation.

KTX: Want to travel outside of Daegu? check train schedules/reserve tickets here

Waygook: Check it out for awesome teaching resources.

Barry Fun English: Good fun ESL tools

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What do you do?

Americans are really interested in our jobs here in Korea.

Short answer: We teach English to elementary students in a public school.

Long answer: My amazing husband and I work at different schools so our systems are a little different.  Korean public school students start to learn English in 3rd grade.  3rd and 4th graders come to English class two times a week.  5th and 6th graders come to English class 3 times a week.  (It is similar to music or art class in elementary schools in America).  Each time the students come to English class, they have a Korean teacher who can speak English.  For me, once a week, I am with the Korean teacher (per class).  So I see students for 40 minutes once a week.  I have 19 classes of kiddos so that is somewhere between 550-570 kids I see each week.  I work with every 3rd-6th grade student at my school. I also teach an English conversation class after school once a week for the staff at my school.  On Thursdays, I have "English Club" in the afternoons.  I have about 12-15 students during that time.  English Club is 90 minutes!  I think the kids and I are both really happy that it is not a minute longer. 

Ian is working with 3rd, 5th, and 6th graders this year.  It is pretty similar to my schedule, but he has 22 classes of kiddos, so he teaches over 600 kids a week!

I hope this makes sense!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Do you like kimchi?

Everyone asks us this (especially when we first came).
For those of you who do not know, kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage that Koreans eat at every meal (as a side dish).

Yes, I like kimchi.  It took me about a month to get used to it.  But now I eat it for lunch everyday and I like it.  My amazing husband thinks kimchi is okay.  He will eat it with meat, but he is not the biggest fan. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can you speak Korean?

We are asked this in English by Americans.  Koreans ask us the same question in Korean.

Aniyo, which is no.

We can read Korean.  We can speak more Korean than the average American, but we are no where close to being fluent (yet).  Maybe someday we will be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

FAQs: Where do you live?

Where do you live?  This is asked by Americans.

We live in Daegu (day-gu) South Korea.  It is city of about 2.5 million people (think city of Chicago).

Daegu used to be spelled Taegu.  Some people (and maps) still call it Taegu. 

Daegu is the home for the 2011 IAAF World Championships for Track and Field!  Woohoo!!!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Easy Dinner from Bethany Z.

from Bethany Z (from church!)
Go through your refrigerator and grab all the vegetables you can find (peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower...or go to the grocery store and buy veggies from the 80% off rack) Julienne everything.  Put some EVOO into a heated pan, dice up some garlic.  Put all of your vegetables and garlic in the pan.  Saute.  Meanwhile, cook some rice.  When the veggies are done, mix with rice and consume.  We eat this quite often and it is one of my favorite meals.  You can also julienne all the veggies the night before :)  It speeds things up quite a bit.

You can also fry an egg, chop it up, and mix everything together.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is your favorite food?

What is your favorite food?
I get this question from Koreans and Americans.
Bimimbip before you mix it

What is your favorite Korean food?
Bimimbap: literally mixed rice. Rice with sauted veggies, a fried egg, a spicy red sauce that is all mixed together.  I could seriously eat bimimbap everyday.
Bimimbap after it is mixed
Pop-en-sue: shaved ice mixed with fresh fruit, beans, and chocolate syrup.  It is delicious during the summer!

My amazing husband's favorite Korean food is sam-gyeop-sal.  Essentially it is grilled pork that we wrap in sesame leaves.  There are tons of samgyeopsal restaurants in Korea.

What is your favorite American food?
Before I moved to Korea: mashed potatoes
After I moved to Korea: Meatloaf.  Olive Garden.  Panera Bread.  Brownies. Anything American :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dessert: Cookie Dough Truffles

from Taste of Home:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 pounds dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.

In a microwave bowl, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off; Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen.

Alissa's note: I left out the walnuts.  They were delicious!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dessert: No Bake Fudgy Oat Cookies

from Taste of Home:
2-1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine oats and coconut; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine milk and butter. Stir in sugar and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Add oat mixture; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 1 in. apart onto waxed paper. Let stand until set. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Alissa's note: I can not find coconut so we went without

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dessert: Mocha Truffles

This recipe is from Taste of Home:

2 packages (12 ounces each)  Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons water
1 pound dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Add the cream cheese, coffee and water. Chill until firm enough to shape. Shape into 1-in. balls and place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Chill for 1-2 hours or until firm.

In a microwave, melt chocolate coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Yield: about 5-1/2 dozen.

Alissa's note: Cream cheese is really expensive in Korea.  I think it we spent between 10 and 15 dollars on 16 oz of cream cheese!