Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meet the Gang!

"I'm taking a break from packing"  That is what I have been saying all weekend.  Note to self: Next time you go on a vacation outside of the country, do not move to a new apartment at the same time. 

Anywho, while I am taking a break from packing, I thought I would introduce you to some of my co-workers.  If you have Facebook, you may have seen these pictures already....

Ji Yeon Kim-teacher (her English name is "Ally"): my Korean older sister or young aunt.  She is about 15 years old than me but a good friend.  She likes to give me advice about life and teaching.  She is a great teacher!  I have learned so much from her.  The students really like her a lot too.  She is so patient with me.  90% of the Korean I know I learned from her.  Ally is a huge blessing in my life.  Last semester I taught 4th grade with her.  This semester I am teaching 3rd and 6th grade with her.  We crack each other up.


Ji Young Kim -teacher: This is the first person I met from my school.  She picked me up from the DMOE and introduced me to everyone else.  Last semester I taught 5th and 6th grade with her; this semester I am teaching 4th grade with her. 

Kim Ji Young Teacher (or as Americans would say Ji Young Kim teacher)

Sun Young Lim - teacher: I have only taught with Sun Young teacher for a few months, but it has been a blast!  We are about the same age.  Sun Young teacher is done with schooling but now preparing to take the four tests to become a certified teacher.  He is the first Korean I have ever met with a British accent.  He says things like, "cheers!"  or "brilliant".  Sun Young teacher likes to rock out to High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and High School Musical 3 in between classes.  He also says "Yes ma'am" and "No ma'am" - you get big brownie points from me if you say "ma'am".  He has been really encouraging in my attempts at using conversational Korean.  I am going to miss teaching fifth grade with him!

Sun Young teacher!

Na Kyeong teacher: My Korean sister!  Na Kyeong teacher is about the same age as me and Koreans say that we are sisters because we look alike :)  I do not teach with Na Kyeong (she is the specail ed teacher for our school), but she eats lunch with us and hangs out a lot with us.  She is so fun!  Na Kyeong went to America during winter vacation to visit her boyfriend.  He is currently earning his PhD in something related to education (I can not remember at the moment) at University of Iowa.  Na Kyeong is really working hard on learning English.  I am really proud of her.

I am so glad that Na Kyeong is laughing in this picture - she is usually laughing or making me laugh

Here is a group shot (plus a substitute P.E. teacher and the Head Teacher - who is in charge of all other teachers or something like that)

Now, I will return to packing.  Happy Last Day of July!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just one week!

One summer I worked at a camp (that is, kamp).  I lived in a teepee.  We had a cheer that went something like, "Just one week, we can't be beat!"  or something.   Anywho, I just wanted to let the world know that in

1 week, 
which is 7 days,
which  is 168 hours,
which is 10,080 minutes,
which is 604,800 seconds

we are coming to America!

Cowabunga dude!

(I have always wanted to say that in my blog, but could never an appropriate spot for it)

Monday, July 25, 2011

What time is it? It's summer time!

The bad news: it is Monday.  The good news: I only have a one more Monday until vacation!

Friday was the last day of the semester!  So the kiddos are out for the summer.  My amazing husband started summer camp this morning and I will be starting tomorrow.  

One of the last lessons I did with my 6th graders for the semester was, "What will you do this summer?"  I thought about playing this song for the kiddos.  High School Musical is still popular in Korea (so are The Simpsons).

Thanks Google.  
Would you like to know what one of my friends pointed out this weekend?  America has carpet.  Waaaa!  I completely forgot about this.  All the floors in Korea are hard wood.  It has to do with the heating system in the winter.  I might lay on the first carpeted floor I see.  Hopefully it is not in an airport or some other place that would be awkward to see me sprawled out.  

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Read this please :)

My running buddy made a list of things that we, waygooks,  do that might seem odd to Americans :)

Click here to read the list

I would like to add to the list:

22.)  I eat garlic straight up now.

23.) I eat onion straight up now.  Or onion in bean sauce: yum!

24.) I hand things to people with two hands.

25.) I bow often (probably like 50 times a day).  I am really hoping that this does not happen in America.

26.)  I talk about money in "thousands" (how much is it?  5,000)

27.) I will definitely say thank you or hello in the wrong language at least once while in America.

28.) I stand up when someone older than me comes in a room (unless I am eating).

29.) I say things like, "We will go first."   "It is good for your health"   "I am so Korean"  "hogwan" "nooribang"  "adjuma"  "jinga?"

30.) I slurp my noodles.

31.) When I get super excited I raise my eyebrows and say, "Waaaaa"  {I am hoping to break this habit about 3 seconds after getting to America}

32.) One can of soda, 5 people?  No problem.

33.) I only like to buy things at the grocery store that have other things taped to the box (i.e. buy a box of cereal with a blanket taped to it or buy a carton of milk with three things of yogurt taped to it)

34.) Korea is the best country in Asia (possibly the world if you ask Koreans)

35.) I have no problem walking to store 20 minutes away, buying groceries and then carrying them home.  (Well, I have a little problem with this when it 500 degrees outside, but whateve)

36.) I will add "eee" to the end of seemingly random words: pageeee, Englisheee, How mucheee?  (this drove me nuts when I came, now I think it is cute)

37.) Speaking of which, everything is cute.  I say cute about 94089509549 times a day.

38.) I will switch out the "f" sound for "p" sound or the "r" for "l" sound and find it hilarious (I crack myself up when introducing myself to Koreans)

39.) I will look over my shoulder when walking on the sidewalk to make sure there are no cars or delivery boys about to run me over.

40.) I can not remember some words in English.

Edit: after making this list there are 4 more that came to mind:
41.) My friend Katelyn said that we use your cell phone, tvscreen, computer, anything with a dark reflective surface as a mirror.  True, true.

42.) I will ask what to do with trash.  Where is your freezer bag for food?  Can I put this in the regular trash? I completely forgot that people in American will throw all of their trash in the same garbage.

43.) If I am walking down the street and I notice a man standing with his back to me or partially hidden behind something, I will most likely avoid him at all costs.  I have developed quite the case of  scared-of-interrupting-men-peeing-on-the-street-phobia.

44.) What do you do with your hands when taking a picture in America?  I can't remember.

And in about 12 days some of you Americans will probably be able to add to the list :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh yeah, the kids hit each other too

Sometimes I have funny thoughts that come to mind and they make me laugh out loud.  I just can not hold the laughter in.

So I was walking down the street this morning laughing to myself.  I wrote yesterday about how the kiddos bring razor blades to school with them.  I have forgotten that it is weird (to Americans) that my kiddos beat each other up.  I have completely normalized the fact that my student hit, slap, kick, punch, whatever each other.

Here is some background information for you (in case you live in America and grew up with the keep all hands, feet, and other objects to yourself rule):

1.) Koreans are really touchy-feely.  Or Americans are very not touchy-feely.  It depends on your perspective.  Little girls hold other little girls hands, little boys hold other little boys hands, little girls hold their mom's hand, little boys hold their mom's hand, 14 year old boys hold their mom's hand, teenage boys hold other teenage boys' hand, old women hold their hubby's hand, so on and so forth...people hold hands here.  People brush shoulders with you on the street and do not say "excuse me" or "sorry".  It is not a big deal.  

2.) Korean do not have a personal bubble of space.  Or Americans do have a personal bubble of space.  It depends on your perspective.  Americans can feel uncomfortable when other people are in their bubble.

3.) A lot of Koreans take taekwondo.  Or a lot of Americans do not take taekwondo.  It depends on your perspective.  I have third graders who are black belts.  If they were to get hit a.) they can defend themselves and b.) they can hit/kick/taekwondo you back.  Just a good thing to keep in mind.  If a Korean child gets hit, he or she does not victimize him or herself.  I think American children have learned to victimize themselves if they get hit.

4.) Korea is not America.  America is not Korea.  Just a good thing to keep in mind.

I was shocked the first time one of my students hit another student and no one did anything.  * I am an American.  People do not hit each other in America and get away with it.  So I did the only American thing I could do.  I put the kid in time-out (okay not time-out, but pretty much the same thing).  This scenario repeated itself over and over.  All the kids were hitting each other.  Girls hit boys.  Boys hit girls back.  Boys hit boys.  Then 5 minutes later the boys are holding hands.  

After about 6 weeks of kids hitting other kids and no one doing anything, I realized that it part of the culture.  This did not sit well with me.  I held onto this American part of myself for a long time.  The first time a kid hit another kid and I did nothing, I felt like a horrible person.  I think it took about 6 months of living in Korea before I was okay with it.  I no longer have a mental freakout when I see kids hitting each other or pushing each other to see who will be the first in line.  I am actually a little concerned that I am going to go back to America and some little child will say, "He hit me blah blah blah" and I will do nothing and then some parent will be upset with me.  

Now the following sentence will be hard for Americans to understand, but there is a difference between kids hitting each other and kids hitting each other.  There has only been once in the last 9 months that I have put a kid in "time out" for hitting.  You can tell the intention of the kids when they are hitting each other.  Not all hitting is mean-hitting.  For real.

So my students bring knives to school and they hit each other and we all get along.  There is rarely ever any blood and no one ever goes to the hospital.  


* I said that I was an American.  I take that back.  I am a waygook.  Waygook is the Korean word for foreigner.  There are days that I feel American. And there are days that I think I am more Korean than I am America.  I am a waygook.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My students bring knives to school!

It is the last day of teaching for the semester!  I have three days of prep {that is, desk-warming/desk-sweating}, then some summer camp, then vacation!  I have "School is Out for the Summer" cued up, it is just on pause for the moment.

In honor of the last day of school, I thought I would share an interesting fact about South Korean students with you.  I remember being shocked the first time one of my third graders whipped out a razor blade (or box cutter or whatever you choose to call it - Koreans call it a knife) and started cutting things!
Thank you Google Images for helpin' a sista out.

Yes, my kiddos bring box cutters to school.

No, there is rarely any blood.

Koreans are great at using these!  In combination with a ruler, you can cut straight lines so fast!  And you can cut through multiple pieces of paper at the same time.  If you are going to use a ruler, I would suggest getting with a metal edge (not that I have destroyed a plastic ruler ever).

My kiddos also bring their cellphones to school.  Nope they do not use them to cheat.  Yes, I have seen 5 years olds with cellphones.

It is a different culture.  Different rules about what age is acceptable for different responsibilities.

***EDIT: sidenote: if you are going to go all Korean and use a box cutter, make sure you are cutting onto a GLASS surface.  Do you not try to use one on a desk that does not have a glass top.  No glass top = damaged desk.  Not that I know that from experience.****

Next blog post: If Koreans use knives in the classroom....guess what they use in the kitchen :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


One day this week we headed over to one of my amazing husband's coteacher's (Anna) house to learn to make gimbap (or is it kimbap?)  It is amazing to me the way Koreans blend the g/k sounds.

I like gimbap.  Quick break down for ya'll: gim is dried seaweed.  Bap is rice or meal (yes the word for rice and meal is the same in Korean.  I laughed out loud when I learned this.  It is not a meal unless you have rice - so Korean!).  I thought about trying to teach you all the steps to making gimbap.  But you can google it if you want to know in depth.

The finished product!
Okay, I googled for you.  Go here to see a 10 minute video of a cute Korean making gimbap in America (Koreans here do not know what an avocado is!)  or go here to see some pretty pictures.  [Sidenote: the one with the video explains how to make kimchi gimbap at the end. My amazing husband likes kimchi gimbap better than regular gimbap.]

I think making gimbap is more of an idea than an exact recipe.  There are so many varieties!  The following is an overview of what we did.

Cutting up some carrots
There is a lot of prep involved in making gimbap: get your rice cooking, cut up a carrot thinly, saute it.  Cut up some ham, saute it.  Cut up some o-dang, saute it.  Take a couple of eggs fry/scramble them - basically you whisk the egg and then let it spread out all over the pan.  Then cut the fried scrambled egg into long pieces.  Cut some imitation crab into long strips.  Cook spinach, then rinse it water, then squeeze ALL of the water out of it.  Toss the drained spinach with some sesame oil.

Anna added salt to all the above steps.  Not necessary I think, but whatever flips your pancake (or in this case, rolls your gimbap?).

 Put all of your ingredients within arms reach.  Place a piece of dried seaweed on the gimbap bamboo roller thing.  Then spread a layer of rice on top of the dried seaweed.  Personally, I would say to only put rice on about half of the seaweed.  I have heard that street vendors use more rice (rice is cheaper than the other ingredients).

On top of the rice place one of each of the ingredients.  One strip of ham, one strip of egg, one strip of oh-dang, one strip of imitation crab, one strip of spinach, and one strip of pickled radish.

Nice stack of ingredients

Then you get to roll your gimbap.  Koreans are really efficient at this.  I am not.  Actually I am not very good at any steps in making gimbap.  I am okay with that.

Amazing Husband, Anna, and her daughter Na Young

It was fun to watch Anna make gimbap.  She made it look so easy.  Anna's daughter got to try to make some gimbap.  I think the 7 year old and I had about the same level of gimbap-skillz.

Amazing Hubs and Na Young making some gimbap.
After you roll the gimbap, you cut it.  The ends of the rolls are not the best, so they are not included in the plate for serving people.  If you are Norwegian and you are reading this, just think about how the ends of lefsa magically disappear when you are cutting it, same with gimbap.  The ends just disappear...

Notice how the ends are not even, and different ingredients are hanging out of the end?  Cutting the ends off  takes of that problem

I think that is it.  I could eat gimbap everyday!  Gimbap is a really popular street food.  You can buy a roll of gimbap for around 90 cents.  Personally, I think it is waaaaaayyy easier to buy a roll or two of gimbap than to buy all the ingredients, prep everything, and then wash all of the dishes too!  BUT it was so fun to hang out with Anna and her family.  It was a blost to learn how to make gimbap.  And as usual, gimbap tastes better when you make it yourself.  In each bite of gimbap, you get all the ingredients - yum!

Sidenote: If you make gimbap, plan on eating within 24 hours.  It does not keep well, even in the fridge.  

I think that is about it.  If you have any questions, let me know.  I will tell you whatever I know about gimbap!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And 1 more...

I have a seventh reason to smile.  I just forgot it momentarily yesterday.

7.) Watching people workout (kinda).  Everyday I walk to school I pass a fruit processing plant.  Okay, I actually do not know what the people do.  It is a big factory and it has something to do with food.  Draw your own conclusions.  ANYWHO, when I walk past in the morning, all of the employees are outside standing in lines, stretching in unison.  It is so cute.  It is so Korean.  I feel like if an American company dragged everyone outside for some unison stretching/workout there would be a lawsuit over something.  Or a lot of complaining.  Or a lot of non-compliance.  Or a lot of not stretching.

It makes me smile to myself everyday when I walk past and see it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

6 Reasons to Smile

I have a lot of reasons to smile today (in no particular order)!

1.) God loves me!  Jesus died so that we can be forgiven!  These thought always brings a smile to my face.

2.) I won!  I entered into a giveaway on Keeper of the Home and I won!  Woohoo!!!!!  Are you wondering what I won?  I won a NaturoKits basic first aid kit from NaturoKits.  Thanks to Keeper of the Home and NaturoKits!  I never win anything and I won!  Yeah!  I was freaking out this morning when I got the email.

3.) The countdown is on!  3 weeks from today we will be in route to America!  I have 6 school days,  6 camp days, 2 days of desk warming left for the semester!  Don't get me wrong - I love life here in Korea, but I am so ready for a break and some vacation!  Family, decaf coffee, friends, Target, sports bra runs, ground turkey, dryers, ovens, American Chinese, American Mexican, family, Panera, friends...I am ready for all of that and more!

4.) My friend who is a rockstar woke up early in America so we could Skype.  I love it when my friends spoil me!  It was so great to chat it up!  Thank you for waking up early!

5.) Thanks to the Heavenly Homemaker, I have found a great way to use left-over zucchini!  And I found this recipe too: No Bake Cinnamon Rolls (they are actually bread, but I take what I can get).  I am going to try this recipe with 65 little precious ones during summer camp.  I'll let you know how it goes!

6.) The hubs who is amazing and I hung out with one of his co-teachers last night.  We learned how to make gimbap.  I will tell you about the process soon - there are so many steps!  I tried to take pictures of all of it.

Why are you smiling today?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monsoon Running

I went for a run on Saturday morning.  It was raining sporks!  About half a mile into the run, I realized that I was already completely soaked.  There are some advantages to running in a monsoon though.  (I ended up running 10 miles, so I made a list in my mind while running).

About 3 seconds after said run (trying to look Bear Grylls-tough)

Pros to running in a Monsoon:
  1.  Most people stay inside when it monsoons resulting in a less crowded running path; also resulting in less people staring at me.  
  2. Your shoes end up really clean.  The shoes I ran in on Saturday have 500+ miles on them; they do not look it at all {post-monsoon run}.
  3. For the most part, the weather is cooler.  Sometimes it is hot and rainy, but it was more like warm and rainy on Saturday.
  4. As a result of number 3 and combined with the rain, you feel less sweaty.  I do not like the feel of a completely sweat-soaked shirt.  However, rain-soaked is much better (in my mind at least).
  5. You feel like you have endured a "Bear Grylls" experience and become a better person for it (or maybe that is just me).

Sometimes the weekend goes the way I think it will.  Sometimes it does not.  Sometimes I forget that I am a control freak.  Then Saturday does not go at all like I planned it to.  Then I remember quite quickly how much I like to be in control. 

Let’s just fast forward to Sunday :)

Sunday went the way I thought it would.  {I returned to my life of denial that I am control freak.}  The hubs who is amazing took me on a date!  I like going on dates on Sunday.  I like going on dates any day of the week.  For those of you who are not married, hang in there!  Dating gets way better once you get married in my opinion (um duh Alissa, everything on this blog is "in my opinion").  I got ready for the date in about 3 seconds and I spent 0 seconds being nervous or second guessing my attire, hair, awkward moments, weird jokes etc.

We went to a coffee shop called Cafe Blooming.  The coffee mugs said, “coffee is delicious communication” on them.  I agree with the coffee mugs.  Chocolate muffins from Costco are also delicious communication.  Coffee shops dates are so fun (and inexpensive).  We did some journaling, talking, planning {read: for America!}, reflecting, and maybe some teasing too.  If you are married and go on a date, try to think of some good date questions.  It is okay to preference a question with "this is a date question".  "This is a date question" is code for "please do not just say Yes or just say No and please indulge me and tell me what coffee creamer flavor you would be if you were a coffee creamer flavor or whatever other weird hypothetical question I am asking".

Two questions:

1.) What are other pros of running in the rain?

2.) What are some date night questions that you like to ask? 

Friday, July 8, 2011


Good ol' Merrimem-Webster gives us the definition of monsoon.  A monsoon is a periodic wind especially in the Indian Ocean and southern Asia 

What?  I always thought monsoons had to do with rain.

So here is Definition # 2 of monsoon according to Merrimem-Webster: the season of the southwest monsoon in India and adjacent areas that is characterized by very heavy rainfall.

Is Korea adjacent to India? Let's just say yes.  See that weather forecast?  Chance of rain for the next 5 days.  I think monsoons are part of the adventure!

Thank you

And just for some fun (because I am all about putting the fun back into dysfunctional...)

A poem for monsoon season

*clears throat*

It is post-June
and we are experiencing a monsoon.

When it is high noon, 
when it is a full moon,
it is raining forks and spoons!

One may say that it is inopportune, 
but he is a buffoon!

Cheery is my tune, 
because I am headed to Cancun!

Okay, I am not headed to Cancun, but it is difficult to find words that rhyme with monsoon.  And, I think I just introduced the phrase, "it is raining forks and spoons" maybe it will become as popular as cats and dogs?

Could we just say, "it is raining sporks" and have the same idea communicated?

Monday, July 4, 2011

A free detox!

In case you live in the Northern Hemisphere and have not been outside in the last few months, let me bring you up to speed: It is summer.  Summer is hot.  Therefore, it is hot.  (I was a math ed major in college.  I rock at writing proofs - not!)

Anywho, I have found that when I have to dress professionally for work, my school does not turn on the AC, and I am at school for 8 hours a day, I sweat.  Profusely.

Warning: The next sentence contains too much information, you have been warned.  I sweat so much I have sweat rash.  awesome.  It makes sweating so much more, uh, comfortable?

But I say all of that to say: it is okay folks.  Life goes on.  Whenever I start sweating,  I just tell myself that I am getting a free detox.  I love free!  I love detoxing my body!  What is a better deal? 

I have heard of people paying money to go to saunas so that they can sit in steamy hot rooms to make them sweat.  Since it is monsoonig here currently, I have the steamy and the hot right here.  I think I get extra points because I run in this hot humid "sauna". (In less you are insane like me, I would not advise running in Korea in the summer.  It is deathly, but detoxing)

Basically, I am telling you how I get through my day.  I just keep telling myself to look on the bright side, "I am getting a free detox".

*Disclaimer: I have no idea if sweating actually detoxes you.  I have read that it does and I have also read that sweating does not detox your body.  I do know that positive thinking is good.  I am thankful that I am hydrated and have the ability to freely detox myself all day.  I am thankful that summer does not last forever.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

a whole lotta happy

July 3rd is a pretty important day in my amazing husband's family.  Not only is July 3rd my father-in-law's birthday, it is also my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's anniversary.

So there is a whole lot of happy going on!

My father-in-law (Daddio) is a great guy.  He has a big heart and I have learned many things from him.  He (along with Mommaboma) has done a great job of raising my amazing husband to be the awesome man he is.  I conducted a short, spur-of-the-moment interview with my amazing husband about his Daddio.

Me: What is one of your favorite character qualities about your Daddio?
Amazing Husband: Generosity.

Me: What is one of your favorite memories that you have with your Daddio?
Amazing Husband: Going to Camp Carew with him.

Me: What parenting tip have you learned from your Daddio that you hope to use someday?
Amazing Husband: Invest in what you kids like, not what you like

Thank you Amazing Husband for abandoning your academic readings for a moment of interview.  Happy Birthday Daddio!  We love and respect you.

Also, Happy Anniversary to my amazing husband's twin brother (Bear) and his wife (B  a.k.a my Denver sister).  I had the pleasure and privilege of attending Bear and B's wedding two years ago.  It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony with a really fun reception to follow!

I have had a blast getting to know my Denver sister.  She is a woman of God and a great sister.  She shares my love of Jane Austin books made into bad movies, Target, Panera, and Monopoly (what more could a girl ask for?).  And Bear is cool too.  He has been working hard on grad school and is almost done.  Go Bear!  I love hanging out with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

I also love watching Bear and B's marriage grow and transform them to be more Christ-like.  You guys rock! Maybe someday when we are all old we can live in the same nursing home, have wheelchair races and talk about the good ol' days when we where whippoorsnappers!