Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So I caught the last Metro home....

So, it was around 9:00 pm my time here, and I was at a Packer bar with abunch of people from my orientation group.  I wasn't really talking to anybody, and I had misjudged how much won I needed to take out, so I was at a bar with a bunch of people that I am not sure I know very well.  So, I decided to leave.  As I was saying my goodbyes, my friends, obviously, gave a me a bunch of shit for going home.  Then, I started talking to them and things went well, and all of a sudden it was 11:45.  The last metro leaves at midnight.  I ha no fare for a cab ride home.  So, I booked it out of there and made it safely on the train.

Things I did at the bar to pass the time:
1. Talk to the owners about how much he misses the Packers.
2. Talk to my friends about my how lucky I am to have someone who would be okay with me going across the world to teach.  (Honey, I talked a lot about you and may have sent my friends some pictures of our family.)
3. Played the, "Where are you from" game, which consists of guessing where the person is from based solely on their looks and, if you're lucky, a sound clip. I guessed the east coast for someone from Canada, and she got really offended. Whoops.
4. Offered a trade of a hair cut for a massage.  My friend will cut my hair, and I will give that person a massage.  Excellent trade agreement.
5. Watched my friend blow perfect smoke rings from a hookah.  I was pretty impressed.

Aside from gallivanting throughout the city of Busan, I do have some good stories.  I will go backwards by day.

Today, I was going on an adventure.  I can see the ocean from my apartment, so I took the old Grandma Bahr method to try to find it.  Go in the direction-ish until you find something you recognize.  Now, I am in a foreign country and I don't recognize a dang thing.  So, this was helpful in the idea of going towards the idea of beach.  So, with my nose to the air and sea breezes flowing, I started walking.  I went down several streets zig zagging.  And, then I came upon a metro station, which was good luck, because I needed to purchase a transportation card.  After some gestured conversations and confused speech, we figured out what I needed.  I thanked them profusely, "Kamsahimnida." Bowing and bowing.  I walked a little more.  Found an E Mart, which is like the Wal Mart of Korea.  Then, found a sign that said Haeuendae and a picture of a dude swimming.  "Yes!" I thought to myself, "This is it!"  So, I followed this road down a sketchy back alley with people loading and unloading things.  I didn't think it was right, so I turned around.  I looked up and there was a huge building that said beach on it.  Ah ha! That's the ticket.  So, I followed the streets to this building, and there it was.  A creamy colored wall that said, "Haeundae Fun and Sun."  Perfect. This is it! I will just follow this wall until there is a break in it.  So, I did.  I looked through the break to see the beautiful, unmistakable signs of

CONSTRUCTION!  They had the water portion of the beach partitioned off.  I was so put off.  I was concerned on how to get home because I had taken so many weird turns to get to that place.  But, I saw the beacon of CINUS department store and just looked up the whole way.  I found myself in my apartment in no time.  But, tomorrow, I plan on surveying the land hoping for a little more success.

Yesterday, I went to get my Alien Registration card. When we got there, there were 272 people waiting, so my co-teacher and I went out for lunch and shopping, and then came back.  For lunch we had Japanese curry.  I had a cutlet and mine and her had a croquette on his.  It was literally a hole in the wall restaurant.  4 tables each seating two people.  But, oh my God.  There was an egg carefully laid atop a steaming pile of curried rice and a perfectly made crusted cutlet snuggled in there, too.  So. Good.  If you come to visit me, we're going there.  It is a 40 minute subway ride, but it is worth it.

Monday, I left Jeonju University and traveled to Busan.  It was a three hour bus ride, and I could sleep during any of it. I met my co-teacher (James) and principal.  I really enjoy my school.  James has been so helpful through everything.  We set up my internet and bank account.  Then, we met up with one of his teacher friends Miss Kim (who, sidenote, ask if I wanted to get my nails done with her today.  I joined her, but politely declined a mani) for dinner.  We had tacos, fajitas and Mexican pizza.  I MISS CHEESE.  However, Korean Mexican food is quite a bit different.  It used a very specific spice that I do not know, but it burned my mouth off.  The beef for the fajitas seemed to be marinated in a jalapeno and soy bean vinaigrette and then sauteed to perfection.  It  melded with the peppers and onions quite beautifully.  THen, we went to Miss Kim's house and picked up some essentials that I need for my house.  Things like toilet paper and pots and pans.

Sunday was the last day of my orientation.  I got up at 8 and had to watch every team's 15 minute condensed EFL lesson.  It was seriously really difficult.  I, then, had to perform my team's lesson  last, which means that these people have been watching lessons for 4 hours, and now we have to go.  Well, shoot.  It went well.  Then, we had the meeting which told us what school we were at and how many co-teachers we had.  I have one named James.  I am going to Centum City High School, which is an all boys school. I am really looking forward to it.  I think that I will be able to use sports or music to help teach these kids English.  It should be really fun.  Then, we had our farewell dinner, which was sad to see my friends go, but good to know that we are all off to new and exciting adventures.  I am certainly looking forward to my friends Paula, Kiera, Maeve, Bethany and Brittany to come and visit.  It should be quite fun.

Saturday was pretty dull.  I had classes, and then had to rewrite my lesson plan according to new rules.  Yiiiiikes, but I got to bed early enough.  Friday was sort of similar in classes etc.  If you have an interest in classes please email me ( and I would love to tell you about them.  But, en masse, they are pretty boring.

Now, Thursday!  We went on a field trip to Hanok village in Jeonju.  We left JU around nine and arrived at our destination about 15 minutes later.  First, we descended into the city.  Where I took some cloister pictures.  We went to the shrine of King Tao-Je.  We walked through the shrine and his gardens.  It was beautiful.

We then went to the paper making factory.  These women separate fibers and then put it into boiling water, and then the men take the boiling water fibers and put it into this huge basin and used their rack that is webbed like a tennis raket to collect the fibers and then put the wet paper onto this huge stack.  I am not sure the drying process, but it was phenomenal to watch.  And, oh my gosh, there was an adorable puppy right outside of the shop who wouldn't let go of my sleeve with his itty bitty teeth. I about died.

Then, we went to the So Ju information center and learned how this rice fermented alcohol is made.  Holy crap that stuff puts you on your ass.  Then, we had a little bit of free time where we played yard games like "Sort-of horseshoes" and "really hard darts."

After that time, we went to a restaurant to bipbimbop, which is a cultural dish here.  It is essentially mushrooms, meet, hot sauce, cabbage, lettuce, sprouts, rice and egg all mixxed together in a giant cluster you know what.  It was sooooooooo tasty.  The bipbimbap has all separate flavor but they worked together in a way that I didn't think was possible.  We also had sticky lotus root and a ginger tea.  And, let me tell you, this tea tasted like a cinnamon gingerbread cookie.  It was awesome.

After lunch, my group went to the north side of the city, and we had cultural lessons.  The first on was a traditional Korean dance.  The moves were pretty straight forward, but you had to be exact with them.  Then, they asked for volunteers to be the lion.  Of course, I volunteered.  Who doesn't want to be a lion?  So, we had to learn a NEW dance in front of all of these peopl (there was about 12 of us).  Then, we put the lion on our head and danced around.  My partner was Stephanie, and I think we made a pretty good lion team.
 After our dance lesson, we played adult see saw which involves a board and a fulcrom.  But, instead of sitting and going back and forth, you are jumping up and down.  Safe?  Maybe not.  Fun? Yep.

Then, we went inside to use the fancy paper to cover boxes.  Mine is teal and pink.  The lady helping though was really sassy.  And, if you didn't do the craft how she wanted, she came over and fixed it for you. Yeah, like that helped my craft anxiety.

After that, we went to a room with a bunch of traditional drums.  We learned a beat, and tried to put it all together.  When it was working, it was a lot, a lot of fun.  I got on of the hour glass drums, and tried my best.  Then, after that, it was time to go home.    And that was a busy day.

Whew, this has been a long message.  I will make sure to update more frequently.  I hope all is well with you, and I will talk to you soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Holy Crap! I am in Korea

1. My flight to San Fran went really well.
2. My flight to Seoul was uncomfortable.  The guy had his seat back the WHOLE flight.
3. I found a huge group of people going to the same place, so we sort of worked together, and have stayed close.
4. Our buses were delayed, so I didn't get to the university until 11:30 pm.  I was so sleepy.  I got my internet working and went to bed.  I met my roommate.  Her name is Paula, and she is from Limerick, Ireland.  I did not make a single joke or say a limerick.  Aren't you proud!  She is really nice.
5. I woke up this morning at about 6:45 because I could no longer sleep.  I just read and wrote some emails. 
6. I had my medical exam today.  I did really poorly on the colorblind section and things.  My blood test went well. They had a hard time finding my veins.  I also had to give a urine sample.  It was so hard! I already have weird pee anxiety that having to do it on command was really rough.  AND I had  just gone before the exam.  But, I think I will pass it.  In line for the exam I met a couple of people. I made friends with them, and I think I am going to really like Michal (from Scotland), Stephenie and Patrick (both from LA).  All of them are in Busan as well.  I think they will be good people. 
7. In the afternoon we had a welcoming ceremony which involved some speeches and also a traditional Korean band which had a small gong, a big drum , and hour glass drum and a huge gong.  It was super awesome.  About halfway through the song, a guy cam e out in their traditional garb and started dancing with a ribbon attached to his head.  It was like break dancing combined with ribbon dancing.  It was a fabulous twist.  Then there was a traditional Korean fan dance, which was beautiful.  But then, there was a tae kwon do exhibit.  And, Oh my God! I want to do that. One of the guys had people stand on a chair and another person stood on his shoulders and held up a board.  He ran used one of the other people as a spring board and backflipped and kicked the board in.  It was absolutely nuts!  They were flipping and kicking and being all sorts of awesome!
8.  We had our welcoming dinner, and I sat with some friends I've met.  I tried TWO new things today.  I ate Octopus and Kimchi.  The octopus wasn't bad.  It was a little rubbery, but sort of like a chewy veal.  The kimchi was spicy!  I had to drink orange juice like crazy to change the taste.  but in general it was very good.  And the barbecued beef is amazing! So many vegetables!
9.This morning we had scrambled eggs with carrots, onions, peas and random other veggies and this incredible spice that made all of the vegetables work together to not overpower the yolk.  So. Good.
10.  I had two 90 minute lectures in the morning.  One was on project based learning.  The lecturer reminded me of Dr. Risden for those who had him, and for those who didn't, a radical ball of energy that bounced about the classroom for 90 minutes.  His information was really well delivered and we did a mock lesson that was really fun and useful.  I will probably steal it. The second lecture was about intonation and how native English speakers use a lot more dynamics than Koreans.  He stressed that it is not as important for the fluency to be 100% but that the message of communication got through.  That was good information for my type A neurotic personality to know.  I need to really focus on the message and content words more than the function words.
11.  Then we had lunch.  It was some sort of soup.  I believe it was a fish broth with noodles and vegetables.  I didn;t care for it all that much.  I had rice with natural soy bean sauce.  There were sesame seeds and carrots floating in it.  It was so fresh and tangy.  It danced around my mouth for about an hour afterwards.
12.  Then, we had a 90 minute lecture on Reading and Writing comprehension.  It seems as though these people all got together and said, "Alright, let's give them so many different approaches to teaching and suggest that ours is the only one to use."  It is just a lot of conflicting information.  I think I liked some of the things in this one.  She told us that using KPOP (or Korean Pop) songs will instantly hook them.  I sat next to a man name Allistar Pincklesmith.  I thought his name was fabulous, but I was too skeered to tell him. He may think that I am just this pedistrian teacher from the cow state.
13. I had a Tae Kwon Do lesson.  It kicked my butt.  I will definitely be sore tomorrow. But, it did give me reason to work out more.   We did some kicks and running and stuff. They asked for dancing volunteers and nobody was stepping forward, so I finally caved.  I walked up and did the worm on the gym floor and then went up into a handstand and then stood.  I felt like it accomplished.  Then the instructor asked if I played sports. I told him I dove in high  school, but he didn't understand.  He asked me to show him.  So, not really knowing what to do, I did my approach, kicked my toes up into the pike position, then did a round off.  It worked well, I think.  Or maybe everyone thinks I am pretentious ass.  Although, I hope not. 
14. I had rice and Korean fried chicken wings for dinner.  There was no sauce on them, but the breading had a hint of sugar in it.  All of their breads are sweet.  It was certainly an interesting contrast.
15. Now, I am off to my Korean Language lessons.  I am about to lean the Hangul alphabet.  Huzzah!

Peace, love, and applesauce,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Panic! At the dildo

Forewarning, this post will not be as crass as the title.

So, several weeks ago (I know, I KNOW I suck at publishing), my friend asked (read pleaded) me to go to a Pure Romance party she was hosting.  She needed twelve people to be there so that she could get X amount of money off of her order.  So, I said, "If the Packer's aren't playing I will be there."  Since the Packers were obviously going to the Superbowl, I thought this a coy trade.  But, then the dumb Packers had to lose to the NY Giants.  So, there I was on an icy Sunday afternoon, driving my friend Mel (whom I convinced to come with me if I got her free booze, and who told her mother she was going to a Pampered Chef party) and Shannon, we trekked off to my dear friend Julie's house.

So, we walk into this beautiful home.  The first thing that catches my eye is a gorgeous baby grande piano and about 15 years worth of sheet music.  The first thing that Mel spies with her little eyes, is the GIANT blue silicon penis suctioned onto the coffee table.  When she pointed it out to me, I obviously turned bright red and said, "I don't think I can do this."
"Sure you can," piped Julie. "Here's some sangria."

Well, when there is sangria involved my faculties become undone and my morals loose.  So, there I was seated on a couch learning about sex from this woman, whom I had never met.  I giggle at the appropriate and inappropriate times.  Whatever.

Now, this is when the panic sets in.  This woman is giving testimonies and all sorts of things, and this is what hits me.  "Oh, this program, Pure Romance, is all about feminism and recognizing your inner self."

Alright, I can buy that.  Knowing your self and the ways that please you are a very important part of feminism.  However, after saying that, the ONLY way she talked about her product was in conjunction with a partner, more specifically, a husband or boyfriend.  "Your boyfriend can use this tool to help with this...." or "Your husband will love this one with ball bearings embedded in the the shaft."  All the while, telling these women that they are pioneer feminists and that intimacy with a tool is such a progressive way of embracing of female individuality and   sexuality.

I almost lost it.  I just wanted to say something about what real feminism is, and how yes, sexuality of pleasing oneself is very important, it is not in the least the only thing about feminism.  However, I decided that this was neither the time nor the place to go head to head with a Pure romance salesperson on the ethics and definitions of feminism.  I just kept my mouth shut, drank sangria, and enjoyed the company. I did walk away one shaving cream richer, though.  So, I count that as a life win.