Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chopsticks and Spaghetti

Korea. It's all about doing something new.  Like eating spaghetti with chopsticks like I did today at lunch. Comparing my life from Germany to Korea, seems like night and day.  The city, the people, the job, everything feels different.   Here are some of the biggest differences I've seen so far.

1)  What I love, love love so far about Seoul -- the city is always alive! Those Saturday afternoon mental run-throughs to make sure I have everything I need for Sunday is no longer necessary.  Sunday--everything is open and all the shops are open late, 9pm, 10pm.  Some shops (more like massive block long malls) are open all night, from 10am to 5am the next day. I feel like I've been given an extra day on the weekend.  So awesome.

 2)  My job here still involves teaching English as a foreign language, but other than the language part, it's totally different from the freelance lifestyle I had in Germany.  My commute is, get this, only FIVE minutes from my house.  Five minutes!  Those long 1.5 hour commutes for 2 hour lessons are long gone.  Also, I'm co-teaching with two Korean teachers and that helps a lot, the pressure isn't all on me, all the time.  The material I'm teaching is a lot simpler too--which, can be dull at times, but my co-teachers are fantastic and I'm really happy with where I am work-wise.

3.  On another note, I stick out a lot here.  I'm white, and people see that I'm a foreigner immediately.  Gone are the days in Germany when I could walk down the street and people would just assume I was German (at least until speaking to me).  I haven't had too many strange encounters, as Seoul is a city, so a bit more international and people are more used to seeing foreigners.  Although did have a man try conversing with me from across the street while waiting for a stoplight.  He then proceeded to cross the street and walk with me on my way to school to practice English with me.

4.  I feel like a whale here.  The women are so tiny.  All the clothes I have to buy here have to be large or XL. :(

5.  Fruits and veg are out of this world expensive.  Expect a post about this soon.

To be honest, I've been holding back on posts, not because I don't want to write, there's just too much to say.  I'll try to be better with it in April.

Until next post.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The best (or worst) I've seen thus far

As seen on the shelves of South Korea, "My Best Frien:
The Beer loves being mode a fuss of. I made a pretty doll and gove it to Beer!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Snowing Garlic

After finishing up my first week on the job, one of my co-teachers and I went for dinner at a place called Mad for Garlic.  It's not just the dishes smothered in garlic, but the decor and lighting are all garlic-themed too.  Kind of a funky place, a bit pricey--but the food was good.

Our order? A 'Snowing Garlic Pizza' and a creamy pasta with chicken and garlic.

When the pizza arrived, I thought there were cornflakes on it--but it's ALL garlic.  The Snowing Garlic Pizza is a white sauce, shrimp, pineapple, cheese and of course, it's not-so-secret main ingredient, garlic.

 Also on their menu:  Dracula Killer, Garlicpeno Pasta, Garlicholic Rice and Garlic Steak.  They should seriously consider handing out mints to customers along with the bill.

Check out that garlic chandelier/light shade.

Mad for Garlic customers in Seoul--although didn't see anybody wearing anything like that this dining experience. Schade.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


That's how many days I've been in South Korea.

Despite all the hassle that came along with applying to EPIK (a government sponsored program) as opposed to going the Hagwon (private school) route, I have to say, so far, it's been worth it ten fold.  The orientation was super well run, and super helpful to 1) give us some tips and hints about the year ahead 2) to meet other NSETs (native English speaking teachers) and 3) to get over jetlag.

I'm finally in my district now, in Gangseo (강서), the western most area of Seoul.  I'm basically on the border to Incheon, and despite the distance,  I'm really pleased with everything so far.  My apartment, a typical studio w/ loft type-place is only down the street from my school and on the bottom floor of our apartment is a 24 hour convenience store, a bunch of restaurants and cafes and a norebang, a Korean karaoke.  

I met my co-teachers on Friday, who both happen to be new to the school as well.  They seem pretty nice.  Friday was the first day of the school year for Korean kids and when I got there early afternoon, I had five meetings!  Four of the five were held in Korean, so lucky for me I could kind of zone out a bit, but during the faculty meeting, I had to introduce myself to all the teachers, and I did it in Korean.  I was nervous as heck, but I hoped that they would see that as a genuine effort on my part to try to get to know Korea and its culture and hopefully make them a little less afraid to try speaking English with me. They all laughed as soon as I said 안녕하십니까 (the formal way of saying hello)--so hoping that was a 'laugh with me, not at me' type thing.    

Next week will be my first teaching week, which I'm kind of nervous about, but overall, I'm really excited. 
Some photos for your viewing pleasure :)...

Field trip with EPIK-SMOE to Changdeok Palace, Seoul.

Deongdaemun streets at night.

Teacher and students greeting each other in Korean fashion--with a bow.

Iman, an awesome fellow NSET from Chicago, and me on the last day of orientation before meeting our co-teachers.