Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kitty Cat Cafe

       This summer, we went to a Kitty Cat Cafe in Seohyeon station in Bundang, Seoul, South Korea.  It hadn't been open for very long when we went.  When they first opened, there was a person standing outside in a kitty costume trying to usher people to the new cafe.
       When we arrived, we had to remove our shoes and wash our hands with sanitizer.  The cost was 8,000won per person.  This included a drink.  They were so sweet there and tried their best to speak as much English as possible.  They ask us if we spoke any Korean and we said " No, not really."  It seemed as if they had a certain list of information that they were supposed to say to us.  However, as much as she tried she soon gave up on trying to explain everything to us.  In our opinion, she did alright speaking English to us, but as we have learned most Koreans are very nervous about their how good their English is.  So then she tried to show us the list of beverages available, but it was all in Korean and we were trying to mention all the teas that we have seen in Korea but they didn't have the ones that we knew.  When we mentioned lemon tea she said no but we have lemonade.  We both agreed to just go with lemonade.  There are tables and chairs for you to put your tray, coats and belongings while you play with the cats. When they brought our glasses of lemonade, we also received a small basket of chocolate chip cookies.
        There are a variety of cats in the cafe.  We counted roughly twenty cats.  There are Himalayan  cats, Siamese cats, a hairless cat, a tortoise-shell, a few tabby cats and many others.  They wer e definitely timid, but we started to realize why after watching some of the Koreans with the cats.  They don't seem to know how to handle cats.  They held them in the strangest way and the cats seemed a bit distant at times. However, they love to play!  The cafe provides feather toys and toy balls with jingle bells inside them.  There are also several climbing tower areas for them to explore/sleep on. There were a couple cats that seemed a bit ill tempered, especially with the other cats.  One cat was put in "time-out" while we were there because he couldn't behave well.  There are rugs on the floor and the cats loved it when we would put the feather underneath and slide it around.  All the cats also seem to have their front claws removed.

For those who want directions:
Seohyeon station is located on The Bundang Line (yellow) on the subway.  Take any exit from the station and you should end up in AK plaza.  Once on the first floor, look for Louis Vuitton.  Exit AK plaza from the Louis Vuitton side of the building.  The first building on your right is where you will find the cafe.  It is located on the third floor and we haven't found an elevator, only a stairwell.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Public Urination

Gross!!!!....I know.  You see this everywhere.  No, it's not just the random Korean who has gotten drunk from too much soju.  The majority of citizens seen urinating in public are young boys, and they're guardians help them. I have heard that this does not only happen outside but has also occurred in the subways (ewww).  There is no shame in it and it seems that none of them actually hide to do their business either....But what's worse, it is not only the male species taking part in this but also little girls ( I don't think grown women do this, but I could be wrong!).  I experienced this first-hand when my students were out playing on the playground a few weeks ago.  One of our little girls pulled on my co-teacher's jacket and said that she needed to use the bathroom.  Without hesitation the teacher helped her with her pants, lifted her ankles above her head and she just peed on a bush!! I was embarrassed to be near this and was looking all around to see if anyone was watching.  Of course back home, you know they would be.

Another encounter that we had was a little boy peeing in the sewer and his nanny was telling him to hurry up.  As I said this is pretty frequently seen throughout Korea and will always be strange/amusing to us.
Maybe Haechi could teach a lesson to our Korean friends :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taking out the Trash

One of the really nice things about Korea is their effort in trying to recycle.  Every time we go to take out the trash we have to separate our trash into many different categories.  The main stations are glass, plastic, heavy cardboard, light cardboard, paper, food waste, and a place for trash bags.  Trash bags are pink here because they are government regulated.  We get a pack of 10 trash bags for $5.  A lot of Koreans that we have talked to think this is a high price for them to pay for this.  They use the money to put back into the cities sanitation. When we go down to put everything away we are always afraid of the security guard.  He walks inches behind you and literally looks over your shoulder when you are putting away stuff.  He's checking if we are putting things away in the right spots.  At first we thought he did it just for foreigners, but he does it to everyone.  We have gotten use to it, but when it first happened we wanted to drop everything and tell him to do it if he was so worried about it. Here are some pictures of our place we put all our trash and recyclables.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A walk to school

Here is what my day looks like when I walk to school every morning.  Its about a 15 minute walk and it is very enjoyable to do everyday.  We have yet to take the bus or anything else to get to school, so whether rain or snow we will be walking everyday.  Just some days we have to bring a change of clothes because of the rain during monsoon season.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pretending to be too busy to post

We have been ignoring the blog too much because we don't want to post very long posts with our busy schedule.  We will be back to doing regular posts soon.  We will try to do a post 1-3 times a week.  We'll do shorter posts, but looking for interesting things about Korea.  We are getting closer to the end of our contract and we are thinking that we are not going to resign with Etonhouse.  There are some things going on and we are looking for a new job.  We are not sure what we are going to do yet, but we are looking for a new place in Korea down south or Japan.  So long story short, we want to make the best of our last months of our contract in Korea because it might be our last.

First post of randomness that happens in our lives everyday, ADVERTISEMENTS!!!!! We live in a studio apartment called an Officetel which means the building could be used for living or business.  So we are use to having lots of people in our building that could live here or be here for business.  Anyone who passes by our door always leaves an advertisement. The ones on the doors are only from this week.  We throw it away at the end of each week.  Then we start over collecting them again.  We are in a busy area having a subway station in our basement.  That's it for now, we'll have more to come.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Korean Folk Village

Over our summer break we traveled to a Korean Folk Village about 45 minutes from our apartment. Some of these villages are actually lived in and others are just set up to look like the original villages. This one, people actually still live there. The first thing that we did when we got inside the village, was check out these white string-like covered trees. Turns out they are wishes. There is a table and your are supposed to put your wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the tree in hopes that it will come true...kinda neat! They never seem to take any of the wishes down, so it is covered with these papers and I guess when they are full they just make a new one.

The village is divided into different social classes and you could go around and see how each class lived. There is also a zen garden and an amusement park attached to the village. We did not go into the amusement park. There is also some beautiful flower gardens that I got a chance to take some photos of.

Besides checking out the buildings and flower gardens, there are scheduled performances to take in throughout the day. The first thing we watched was the Farmer's Music and Dance. This has about fifteen men dressed in traditional apparel, the instrumentalists were basically playing different pans and drums. The dancers had long ribbon-like strings attached to their hats which they twirl in circles while dancing. They also did some leaps here and there. The climax of this performance was a gentleman with a really long ribbon that he performed several jumping tricks with.
The second performance we caught was the Equestrian Feats. This was a lot of trick riding and they showed how they would hunt boars. It was fun to watch them chase after the horse and get back on it.
The final show that we watched was the Tightrope Acrobat. This was interesting for a little while, but after watching him cross so many times it got a little old. The acrobat was an older gentleman and he used a lot of jokes in his show (all in Korean). He did some really difficult things and had a fan for balance as he walked across. He did some jumping to a sit on the rope as well as going to one knee.

There was one show that we didn't get a chance to catch and that was a reinactment of a traditional wedding. Maybe we'll visit again and get a chance to watch this. I'm not sure what performances are consistant. We were there during their summer schedule and it seems that some things change for each season.

There is a lot to take in at the folk village and there are many things that we didn't get a chance to experience. Also, there was construction and some flooding at the river, so some things were closed. There are some experiences that you can also be a part of such as dyeing material, a pottery workshop, a fan workshop, and a few more.

Most of the things at the village that are available for purchase are hand-crafted there. There is a wood carver, a knot tying shop, pipe maker, and many others. We both bought some bracelets with hand crafted knots as well as a fan and some hand carved ducks. The other interesting thing was that it all seemed to be at a reasonable price.

We enjoyed a nice lunch there as well, which we had been told not to miss out on the food there. It was very good. We look forward to visiting there again.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First School Fieldtrip to the Strawberry Farm

So when I was thinking strawberry farm, I thought, "Oh neat, we are going to see what a farm in Korea looks like." Wrong. So it the drive was about an hour to get there. There were rows and rows of greenhouses surrounded by a dusty lot. Inside the greenhouses were long mounded rows of trashbag-like material with strawberry plants shooting up out of them. Not at all what I would call a farm. The entire presentation was in Korean, so neither Chris nor I or any of the foreign teachers for that matter understood what was being said to the children. Each child was given a plastic carton to fill. After some time, the ladies at the farm told us to stop and give the containers to them. From there we went to another greenhouse with picnic tables inside and had to sit around them. They brought out bowls of already cleaned and cut up strawberries that the children squeezed and smashed by hand. Once each class had their strawberries mushed enough they were all poured into big pots. Each of the children got a chance to use the big spoons and stir the jam. We had lunch afterwards and all of the children had about an hour to play in some open area before getting back on the buses. Every child got to take home a container of strawberries and a jar of jam! None of the teachers were allowed any of the strawberries, but we did get to sample one or two before they were cleaned. They tasted funny, so we weren't too disappointed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What I've learned in Korea

I will be writing different things that I have learned in Korea in different segments.  There is so much to cover and it seems like everyone's experiences that we have talked to are different as well when coming to this country.

First topic: Korean People helpfulness?

What I've seen is that Korean people are very nice and are willing to help whenever they can.  When we tell this to other Korean's or even foreign teachers they are very shocked.  I don't know what other people have experienced, but we are very forgiving for some things just because this isn't our culture.  One of the things that is not considered rude is bumping into each other.  When a Korean walks into someone, they will not turn around or say sorry, they will just continue to walk along like nothing has happened.  This is pretty understandable because there are so many people in different areas that it almost impossible to not bump into anyone. The basic moto is walk to where you need to go at your own pace, and if that means pushing people away that's fine.  I think the other problem people have is older men and women.  They feel like they should be treated better because they are older.  In all reality, Korea still has a lot of Confucius ideas in their society, and respecting your elders in a gracious way is one of them.  I don't mind it because I should be more respectful to them, but I usually am not.  Most of the time older Korean men and women are very curious about foreigners so they will try to communicate with us.  Some will try to practice English while others will babble in Korean and I just shake my head and try to use hand signs.  It's usually the younger Koreans who can speak a lot more English and can help us out more if we need help.  Overall we have enjoyed our experiences with other Koreans and love interacting with them more.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lotte World

 So we had been to this mall that has an amusement park inside it. Actually it is said to be the largest indoor amusement park! We walked past it and the logo to the park is almost an exact replica of Disney. So we figured this has to be good if it looks similar to Disney. So we decided to check it out. It feels like a mock off of Disney. It's a really cool place and has some things that seem very Disney-like. The park is an indoor and outdoor park on the top floor of a mall. There are a lot of little kid rides and some rides that seemed too adult for being on the main floor. The admission cost us about 32,000 won a piece this was with a 10% discount that we heard is for foreigners! Also, it is cheaper to go on the weekdays (which we'll keep in mind if we go back later this year). There is a ride that goes all over the park (similar to the monorail) and stops on both sides of the park. There is a hot air balloon ride that goes all around the ceiling of the indoor part, but we didn't get a chance to ride it because of the lines. One interesting thing that we found at the park is that there are all kinds of cute headbands with ears and bows on them. The strangest part about it was that there were really no children wearing them. The adults are the ones who sport the cute animal look around the park...and of course we had to fit in and buy some as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cherry Blossoms in Korea

         This past weekend we went to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Seoul. We rode the subway to Dangsan station and had to walk about 15 minutes to get there. On our way, we came upon a Boat Show that was going on. We checked it out, but turned around quickly because it seemed really boring. We started walking toward the beautiful trees and there was a young Korean man that approached Chris (we think he was asking directions or wanted to practice his English.) We were traveling with a new teacher on our staff. She just arrived last week from Australia and will begin teaching one of the Pre-K classes next month. Anyway, when the Korean man noticed Natalie and I standing there he seemed very uncomfortable, basically stopped talking and walked away. The street was blocked off for the festival and was absolutely gorgeous! Every tree filled with beautiful pink and white blossoms. There were other trees along with some potted floral arrangements. The other flowers included: azaleas, yellow daisies, tulips, pansies, and many other flowers. We had street vendor food for lunch and found an event for the Korean Red Cross that was going on in another part of the stop that had basketball tournaments and a magic show. It has been so beautiful outside lately, but it doesn't seem like our typical springtime back home. In a lot of ways to Chris and I, it feels like early Fall weather. Cool, moist mornings, hot afternoon and somewhat cold evenings. It's starting to warm up more in the evenings now too. The sad news that we have heard is that the cherry blossoms only last around three weeks, so we better enjoy it while we can.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Arctic Foxes and Pandas

We have been teaching our classes now for almost three weeks. We each have a co-teacher to work with us and plan out each day.
Danelle's class:
Danelle has eleven children in her class. Up until today, I had 10 children, so it was the first day for my newest student. As I said before I am teaching (American age) 2 1/2 to 3 year old children. The first few days of school every class has to decide on the name of their class for the year. I decided to give my kids a choice and show them 6 pictures of animals to choose from. We had hedgehogs, camels, tigers, monkeys, sloths, and pandas. It took a while for the children to answer our questions but it came to a tie and the teachers decided between the two choices. We've been working on the first two letters of the alphabet, a few numbers, and starting some phonics. The kids love to sing the daily songs and enjoy art time.

I have a well rounded group of kids. We are starting to go from the crying stage into actual daily schedules. This past week and this week we actually have done a few lessons. I have a good range of children when it comes to learning. Some of my kids are already tracing numbers and letters, while others are not interested in any of the group work and try to play constantly.

Chris's class:
Chris has 16 kids in his classroom. Its been 3 weeks since the beginning of school and I'm loving my class.  I'm teaching kindergarten-2 which is Korean age 7 and U.S. age 6.  In a lot of ways they would be in 1st grade in U.S terms.  They are very cute and know English very well.  Each of them have their own levels ranging from very high to somewhat low.  This mix of age groups is not very different from back home.  The lucky thing for me is that I have only 16 students. The down side is I have very little space.  One of the big things at EtonHouse in Korea is creating a class name.  The students picked out the name Arctic Fox after a little convincing from the teacher, wink wink.  All I have to do is say how awesome my idea was compaired to the others.

More to come)...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Random, Training, and Prep

Random occurrence today:

Danelle and I were standing at a stop light waiting to cross the street to get some food, when a old Korean man started talking to me. 

Old Man: "Hello, where are you from?"
Me: "O, Hi! I'm from Chicago, um USA"
Old Man "Welcome to Korea"
Me: "Thanks" smiling
Old Man:  "I once went to school in a USA class"
Me: thinking it was college "where did you go?"
Old Man: "USA school in Libya. One time I fell into a swimming pool and I drowned"
Me:  "O No! what happened?"
Old Man: "My friend's, girlfriend saved me.  Let me give you some advice.  If you have children, don't let them drown."
Me:  "Thank you"
Old Man:  "Bye"  while he shakes my hand
Me: "Bye" as we went our separate ways Danelle and I started cracking up laughing from the conversation.  We were very pleased that the man was so happy to practice his English with us and he was very nice.  But it was a very odd story.  Shortly after we saw a bus driver run through 8 lanes of traffic with a median that is 5 ft. tall to get to his bus.  Luckily he made it after weaving in and out of some traffic. 

We are sorry that we haven't updated in a while.  We have stuff to tell, but it can't be fit into one post.  We will be backlogged for a while, till we get into a routine.  We started training for school 2 weeks ago, and it has been a storm of information and activities that kept us very busy.  We hit the time where a lot of former teachers were leaving and having farewell parties. After school we were getting different items from there rooms and then going out to dinner or something else that would be going on. 

    Last week we got the opportunity to watch the graduation ceremony for the preschool.  All of the children gave speeches about themselves and what they would miss about EtonHouse and their friends. They looked adorable in their graduation caps and gowns and some of the parents greeted us and asked which classes we would be teaching this year. Starting Wednesday afternoon, we began setting up our classrooms.  Friday we went to the new EtonHouse school for its opening ceremony where we met the founder of EtonHouse preschools. Which leads us up to today, Danelle met all but two of her students for about an hour this morning for parent orientation. Chris didn't have any new students, so he was able to do some extra planning for the coming week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Red Day

So to most of you, February 14th is considered Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong, they celebrate Valentine's Day here in Korea as well, but they do it a lot more elaborate than we do back home. There are three days devoted to Valentine-like days in Korea- Red Day, White Day and Black Day.

Red Day is specifically for the men. Men!?!? Yes, women go and buy gifts for the men on February 14 and get no gift in return on this specific day. I have heard that the main gift is chocolates, but just like in the US, you can also include a more personal gift along with the sweets.

Exactly a month after on March 14, White Day is celebrated. The roles are switched and the guy gets all the gifts for the girl. Aww, his and her Valentine's Day! We will talk more about this then I'm sure.

Also to go with the pattern, what is Black day you may ask. Well, Black Day is for the singles and from what I have heard, they eat black spaghetti noodles as a symbol of their loneliness (how depressing!).

Anyway, back to Red Day since that is today. We decided to celebrate Korean style. I bought a bunch of things which I mentioned in the Girls Night post. His main gift was painting supplies because he enjoys doing pixel art, which he was not able to bring to Korea with him from home. I took him out to dinner and we went for coffee to just sit and visit for a while. It was very nice. The whole night was his to choose what we did.

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


We just posted another video that shows some of our favorite Korean snacks so far.

PS- Chris knows that mushrooms are not a fruit. He messed up. :)

Also one of our new favorite kpop songs:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Girls Night!

I needed to go shopping for Chris for Red Day, which is Valentine's Day for guys in Korea (we explain more about this in another post). I asked some of the teachers at the school if they wanted to take me shopping, since I don't completely know my way around. So the two teachers that I went with are named Claire and Janelle. We began our night with a cup of coffee at the Paris Baguette located in the same building as our school is. We decided where to go shopping and discussed the rest of our plans for the evening. After taking a short bus ride back to our apartment to drop off some things, we searched for a Seoul taxi. There are two different kinds of taxis: those that go to Seoul and those that stay in the city. We had to stop a few taxis and ask before we found one that would take us to Seoul.
We decided to go shopping in Itaewon. Itaewon is the place that you would most commonly find foreigners, specifically teachers and soldiers. It is located near one of the US military bases, so you will find many soldiers there. The girls took me first to a building with a lot of souvenir like items that were specific to Korea. I couldn't find anything I wanted to buy Chris there. We might get some things later, or look at that kind of stuff to bring back home with us. We then went to a men's dress store to look at some clothing found something small for him there.
I had asked Claire to help me find a women's clothing store while we were out. It is difficult to find clothing here in Korea. While at this store, called Big and Tall for women, I learned that the smallest size would be an American size 10. Now, I know many people that would not find that to be considered large, but here everything runs smaller. The prices weren't unbelievably cheap, but they were reasonable for the most part. I found a cute Aeropostale hoodie and a couple other shirts to wear for comfort, as I had brought mostly dress clothes with me to Korea. I needed some comfortable clothing to wear outside of school. We started discussing dinner and Janelle suggested Indian food. I mention that I had never had Indian food, so that's where we went.
I believe the place was called Agri. I could be completely wrong on that. It was basically an underground restaurant. It had a very dim lit atmosphere with both Indian and European accents. This menu had the most English I have seen yet. It not only told you what each item was in English, but also gave a good description of each dish. The price range was quite a bit higher than Chris and I have been spending here. I spent 19,000 won on my whole meal. I had lamb makhni with garlic naan. The lamb was cooked with a mild curry and had a creamy flavor to it as well. I ordered lamb, because I have only had it one other time. It was very tender and delicious. The garlic naan was a bit too much garlic for me. I had to learn how to eat the food also. Basically from watching Claire and Janelle, you are suppose to dip the naan in the sauce. There was a lot of sauce so I wasn't sure what to do with all of it. Janelle ended up finishing my naan for me because I was too full.

We had planned to go to a place called the Traveler's Bar and Grill. Thursday night is ladies night and there are discounts on drinks. Well, the other teachers canceled on us and we mostly wanted to go there to socialize over the drinking part. So, we decided to head back home. Since we went home a bit earlier, Janelle introduced me to a very nice arts and crafts store in the building across the street from our apartments. I found a gift for Chris there. They had reasonably priced art supplies there as well as several things that I feel I could find useful to help with my teaching this coming year.

All in all, I had a very nice night and hope to enjoy more girl time this year. Chris spent his evening exploring different parts of Bundang.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

garbage soup.... YUM!!!!!

We have been very busy and need some time to get back on track with Blogging.  We'll just put a quick review of what we are up to and what we have been doing as of late. First thing is that we lied and are not in downtown Bundang.  Instead we are just at a subway station that is three stops away from downtown (around 4 min or less by subway).  We are also located on the Migeum station on the "Yellow" Bundang line, if you want to look at a Seoul subway map here.

We started work Monday Feb.7th because our boss felt bad.  Our contract stated we were to start on Feb. 1st, but they changed the start date to Feb. 14th and never told us.  So we got to start work a little early and on the 14th we start training.  I got to write a P.E. curriculum for the school and Danelle got to clean up the art room...... lucky her........ Its been nice to come in to school everyday because we have so many staff greet us with bright smiling faces everyday.  We also have been able to get to know all the teachers who are leaving, so we are already trying to get connections on free stuff they can't take home.  We're learning more about the school itself and the culture of Korea.  Plus we get great cooked Korean meals for lunch Everyday!  They usually consist of some type of meat and veggies, rice, seaweed, spiced radish, and soup.  All the meals are really good and healthy.

We got cable and internet in our apartment and we are so excited.  We were hoping watching Korean games shows would be like Japan, but disappointingly they are very boring.  Usually its a dating show full of celebrities and they just speak Korean to each other laugh a lot and they show a ton of replays of stuff we don't understand.  So Instead we watch K-pop music videos and American Movies.  We've got one song stuck in our heads most of the time that we love.

On Saturday Feb. 5th we went to Gyeongbok Palace which is the main one of Seoul.  It was really pretty and we learned a lot about their past.  We'll save this for a future post, so stay tuned for a post on this place.
On Tuesday we went out with a co-teacher to get a router for our internet.  We went into Seoul and had a great time.  We stopped off at Lotteworld, which is a shopping mall and the largest indoor amusement park in the world.  We got to see some of the amusement park and it looked really neat.  We found a place to eat that was a typical Korean restaurant.  We were told a little history about the food we were going to try was from the Korean war.  When the U.S. troops left Korea they got rid of all their rations, which were things like spam, sausage and ham.  So poor Koreans used these leftovers and put them into a soup, added some veggies and spice and we were told it was called roughly "garbage soup."  It was really good, but also very hot.  From there we went three stops more to techmart to get our router.  We got a really nice one for $31!  We also saw a beautiful view of the frozen river from the top of the building and see all the pretty lights that were still up from Christmas.  Yep, they still have Christmas stuff up in many different places.  

We have been exploring and eating out most nights.  Eating out here is wonderful because there are no tips, and food is cheaper to eat out than cooking.  So it has been nice going out for dinner most nights and enjoying really good food.  The one thing we are still having problems with is finding different things to do in Bundang on the internet.  I think we are going to go exploring on our own and write about what we have found in this city.  Seoul is fun and we'll explore that as well, but I'm interested in our new home city and what it has to offer.  We'll post more photos and entries soon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

new photos on flickr

Go over to our flickr page and check out some of our photos, we have more, but we are only allowed to upload 300 mbs per month, so we are using it sparingly right now.


First Impressions

 We have now been here for just over a week. So we wanted to share with all of you what we've seen, done, etc. since we first saw our apartment.

Where we live
We live in an apartment complex called the City of Angels in the downtown area of Bundang (pronounced Poon-Dong).  If you look at the Seoul subway map, we are at the Migeum subway stop which is located right outside of our apartment building.  Our apartment building has many different businesses located on five floors including:...
  • 4 coffee shops
  • 1 grocery store
  • 15+ restaurants
  • 2 medical clinics
  • 1 books store
  • 1 eye glass shop
  • 2 cell phone store
  • 1 internet cafe
  • 6 clothing
  • massage palor
  • 2 banks
  • as well as others that we probably forgot to mention 
 Food- Restaurants

We were told by our principal that Korea has the most restaurants per square mile and we were still shocked by how many there really are.  While wandering around, there is at least 1 restaurant every three stores or less (the malls are worse).  We aren't sure how all of them stay in business because there are so many.  We have found two styles of restaurants: those that have English and Korean writing and those only in Korean.  The one nice thing though is that most places have pictures for us to point at what food we want to eat. Sometimes the money amount is in English and others its not.  We have just found the rule of give them money and they'll give us correct  change.  The food is very cheap and we aren't sure how people dining solo could handle all the food. Most of the meals at restaurants are meant for 2 or more people.  We have spent anywhere from $2.50 - $6. Everyone is really nice and accommodating even if they speak little to no English. Also, there is no tipping, which makes whatever you order the entire cost of the meal. Tax is sometimes included but we aren't sure exactly when and why there is a difference. We have found a place that we really like called Misoya that we plan to visit once a week.  It has delicious calamari and pork and chicken cutlets with sides of fresh cabbage smothered in thousand island, a broth- like soup, butternut squash slices, garlic, spiced radish and a watery bbq-like dipping sauce.

Subway system

Since the subway is right outside our building, it is very easy to get to Seoul. Adventure Teaching provided us with T money cards which are prepaid transportation cards that are refillable.  It cost us roughly $2 round trip to Seoul.  When we sat down in the seats, they were heated :).  There were also vendors going from car to car trying to sell items from a cart including: toys, socks and toothbrushes along with other random junk.  The vendors ignored the two of us, we're assuming that they didn't think we would understand them.  The subways seem like the easiest way to get around Seoul. 

We were given a quick tour of our school on our second day in Korea.  It is located on the fourth floor of Micheleon Chereville complex.  There are approximately seven classrooms in the school ranging from 2 and half to 5 year old children.  Each class has 12 to 16 children with 1 English teacher and 1 Korean teacher.  Some of the other rooms that we have seen for enrichment are an art room, a technology room with a smart board, a small PE area, a very tiny music room, and a library. Also there is a dining area which Danelle got the opportunity to try their food. I enjoyed it and realized that I actually like seaweed.  The school seems very modern and we look forward to teaching there.


So I know it seems strange to say something about our garbage, but the way they do things here in Korea, amazes me.  They recycle everything. Well, literally everything except for food itself.

Strange Things
  • The only type of heating is floor heating.
  • When any type of repair person comes, they don't speak to us and just do their work. They take their shoes off when they enter and then get to work. Once the job is finished, they bow to us and then leave.
  • Young women wear miniskirts and high heels in the winter time and around 0 degrees. However, they bundle up the top half of their bodies as if they are in a blizzard.
  • Children, beginning around the age of 8 walk around the city alone! (This scares Danelle)
  • Stores are extremely small, but they cram them full from top to bottom.
  • Everything has a noise/song/jingle when it turns on or is suppose to make you aware of something.
Pictures coming soon!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

apartment and more...

Here's a video we posted on youtube from our first night in Korea.  Everything we have done so far has been so much fun and we love every bit of Korea.  We were told that our apartment is a lot bigger then most other teachers.  We are still waiting for other furniture to arrive because they still have some teachers on contract till the end of February.  We have cleaned up the apt, but we still need internet and curtains :(  We'll post some more videos when we have more time on the internet, but until then enjoy the video and Danelle's first experience flying.  

Danelle's first experience on a plane:

My first experience in an airport/plane was not at all what anyone had explained to me.  It was easy.  We took our bags and had to stand in line.  Once it was our turn to collect our tickets, we stepped up, said how many bags we had and weighed them.  The woman tagged our bags, gave us our tickets and we were on our way to another line.  The next line was for security.  We had time to have our shoes already off held our coats in our hands and were able to get our belongings put into the bins quickly.  We had a couple hours to just sit and wait for the plane.  The plane arrived and I had to take all kinds of pictures of the plane and a picture of us before we boarded.  We were in the back of the plane and with KoreanAir, those passengers board first.  We stepped onto the plane got our bags put up in the overhead compartment and took our seats.  The plane took a while to get into the air.  As soon as we started takeoff, it felt like we were being shot out of a gun.  It was quite the adrenaline rush. I really enjoyed that part.  There was a really rude man on the plane with us who slept halfway in the isle, hit on the flight attendants and was just disgusting! Chris had to sit across from him and he smelled of alcohol and BO.  They served us several snacks and drinks as well as two meals.  There were many options on the plane for entertainment during the long flight.  There were numerous movies to view as well as several games to play.  The was also a sky map that showed where we were, how long we had left to fly, how fast we were going, etc.  My favorite part of the flight was flying over the Russian desert, it was absolutely beautiful.  I had never seen a desert before in my life and I was just amazed. However, I doubt others on the plane appreciated it because most of them were trying to sleep.  That which I got little to none of, I could not sleep a wink.  For one, it is extremely difficult for me to sleep sitting up.  Too much of everything going on and I just couldn’t miss any of it.  We got to Korea and began to land.  This is where I started to feel awful.  I  thought I was going to be sick, I think this may have to do with the fact that it was around 2am US central time and 4pm South Korea time.
                We landed at Incheon Airport in South Korea and went through immigration services, which didn’t take very long.  (This whole time I felt miserable.)  Afterwards, we stood around the conveyer belt waiting to collect our bags, which took a while. This gave us a chance to catch our breath. Once we had our bags, we stopped at customs to turn in our cards and exchanged some currency before finding our driver.


Friday, January 28, 2011

We are here!

We just got here, but we have no internet.  We are at a local cafe and only have so much time to do stuff.  Just wanted to say we are safe and we'll be posting videos and more info about everything later. is not liking me being in korea for some reason, and blogger won't accept my video :(  16 hours in Korea so far and loving it! :D

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We leave Jan. 26th 11:30am from Chicago to go to Korea!!!! YAY we are so excited

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What we know before we go

We thought it would be fun to show what we know before we go over there, and then see if your first impressions live up to what we expect or know.

Where we are going to live? (picture from Wikipedia)

We are moving to Bundang, South Korea, which is a suburb of Seoul the capital. We are not sure of our Korean address yet, but we will be around here. Bundang is a city that has been built around 1989 because they wanted to spread out the population of Seoul which is around 10.5 million. The Korean government created several planned communities and Bundang is one of them. This city is around 450,000 people and was created with rows and rows of apartment buildings. Unlike the big city (Seoul), they planned more parks and green areas to allow for more activities outside. Bundang has a subway line which is attached to Seoul's Subway and there are buses to get there as well. From what we have heard its around 20-60 min to get to different places in Seoul, and around 30 min to downtown. From what we have read Seoul is surrounded by mountains which is exciting to wake up and see a beautiful backdrop everyday!

Where are we going to teach?

We will be teaching at a school called EtonHouse. It is a private preschool. The children range from ages 3-8 (2-7). The ages in parenthesis are how old we feel that they are. Danelle will be teaching the Nursery class (2 1/2 and 3 year old children). Chris will be teaching an older group of children, but we do not know which age group. The hours we will be working 9:30am to 4:30pm but we only work 30 hours per week. We will be teaching science, math, and english. With Chris having a degree in PE, they want him to start a PE program at the school. I have a minor in music and they want me to teach music for them.

We have read about how most of the food is excellent and some a little strange. We are very excited to get on the plane and test it all out for ourselves! Nearly a week left.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How we started off


With Just two weeks before we head over to Korea, we'll explain why and how we decided to teach English over there. I (Chris) wanted to work overseas because I love to travel and wanted to experience something that would be unique and fun. Danelle was a little more hesitant because she has never traveled outside of the US, but as the idea became more of a possibility she was more comfortable with the idea. Now she and I are both very excited to start our journey. Since we don't have any responsibilities yet, this was a great opportunity to do. This all started when I heard about all the teacher lay-offs across the country. I was scared to see all the teacher lay-offs so I wanted to find a job and get into a teachers pension as fast as possible before I would consider going overseas. After a long and tiring process of applying to over 120+ places around the country and almost getting a job in Anchorage, Alaska. I decided to try for a position overseas. I've researched this subject before because I thought this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity that would give us both a teaching experience and a wonderful adventure learning a new culture. After telling Danelle the plan, we decided to contact many different companies to see which agency we wanted to work with. The three main places we were thinking of going was China, Japan, and South Korea. The main reason we chose Korea was for safety. China, we were afraid of the government and possibly being censored. We've heard that there is racism towards Americans in Japan. As for Korea, all we knew was that we had a strong military presence and that they love Americans. So we went to the safety of our military and people who actually like us and decided to look into Korea.

Application Process

After getting e-mails back from different recruiters we found a great company called Adventure Teaching. I'll take a minute to explain everything about Adventure Teaching that we have come to know and love about them. They actually wanted an interview with us before even considering to post our information to possible schools in Korea. Through the whole process, they have been right there to help us in every step. As soon as we passed their interview, we started getting emails about getting our Visas processed and how soon we would prefer to start teaching. We are looking forward to how helpful they will be during our stay in Korea. We have been told that on a biweekly basis they will be contacting us to make sure we are adjusting well and to get us involved with other English teachers. We applied through their website and realized that we had to do a decent amount of research to see where we wanted to go because they ask our preference of place to go and school. So here's what we decided:

Schools: From what we researched Koreans are very education focused. We also heard that around the age of 3-4 kids have a text book in front of them and they are able to read it from cover to cover. They are very education focused and they are very eager to learn English because it's the international business language. From what we saw the only big difference in education is Kindergarten, besides that they have Elementary, Middle School, and High School.

Kindergarten: Kindergarten in Korea is not a publicly administered program. Parents send their children to private schools: most are taught in Korean, many of those have an English class, and some kindergartens are taught almost entirely in English. Kindergarten in South Korea is composed of children from ages three to seven, and then they will go to the next step in their education which is Elementary school.

We decided to request a Kindergarten/Elementary School level and we didn't care about a public or private setting. We also chose to be in/around Seoul because it was the capital of Korea and had the most events and opportunity for some interesting trips.

September 12, 2010

To end off the application process we had to send our resume and a cover letter. We had no clue, whether we should address it to Adventure Teaching or a possible school. So we decided to focus it on Adventure Teaching and see if we would be told to focus it to a Korean school later. Adventure Teaching was very proficient with their response and wanted an interview before they would accept us and help us find a job. After passing the phone interview we were told that we will have to start early with our paper work and not to expect job offers till the End of November.

Our Qualifications:

Chris: I'm a Physical Education graduate from Western Illinois University. I've developed and implemented a P.E. curriculum from a private christian school as a research project at school, and did student teaching. I have been a camp counselor for 5 years.

Danelle: I'm a Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration graduate from Western Illinois University. I spent two years at WIU in the Early Childhood Education, where I have learned a large amount of information about children birth-10. During those two years I spent a lot of time doing various observations and volunteer work in daycare and classrooms. This past summer I did my internship at a daycare where I had various positions including teaching in classrooms from infants to four year old children (I loved every minute).

Paper Work

Possibly the most frustrating part of our experience is all the leg work and money we had to spend before going to Korea. The few things that we had to do is:

  • Get a copy of our University Diploma (along with a Notarization and an Apostille)
  • FBI background check (takes 12 weeks along with Notarization and an Apostille)
  • Visa Application
  • E2 Health Statement
  • Consulate Check list
  • 4 copies of our transcripts
  • 4 passport photos
  • Around $200 to pay for different documents and Visa
Chris's painful experience with documents:

If your asking yourself what an Apostille is, well so did I until a long trial and error. An Apostille is an international notarization. So not only do we need a normal notarization, but an international one as well. I started off asking Adventure Teaching for help, so they lead me to the state website to find out where I can get one in Illinois. Since the state website is so helpful it basically told me I could get it anywhere. So I tried my local bank to get a notarization and see if they could do an Apostille as well, but they had no clue what it was. Strike 1. So I try another step up, I went to the County clerks office. So I drive up to Wheaton to the county clerks office and get lost. I ask someone and they tell me to go to the court office instead of the clerks office. After an 1 1/2 wait, I find out they have no clue what this is either. I ask for another place to go and they lead me to the clerks office. When I get there they told me "We don't do this here, here's a piece of paper." Strike 2.The paper had two addresses to get the Apostille, so I was off to Chicago. When I got to the address, it took me 10 minute and $4. Too bad to get into the city took me 1 hour and $10 in parking.

Danelle's painful experience with documents:

The FBI CRC (criminal record check) was my biggest issue. I was determine from the beginning that I was going to get my fingerprints and send them in right away. It takes up to twelve weeks for FBI to process your fingerprints. I highly suggest this to be the first thing that you do if you are interested in teaching overseas. In order to obtain a FBI background check, you must send in your fingerprints, a paper with your credit card information, and the Apostille request letter (whatever the Apostille was, haha as Chris already explained). First I decided to contact the State Police office in Macomb, and they told me that only county police do the fingerprints. So I drove to Macomb, got my fingerprints, typed up my credit card information and signed the letter. It cost around $25 to send 1st class mail to FBI. So everything else seemed to be going smoothly and I was nearing my twelve weeks. After nine weeks, I received something in the mail from the FBI and I was so excited, until I opened it... Inside the envelope was a letter and a new fingerprint sheet. The letter said that my fingerprints were not legible and I needed to resubmit. This was the second week in November and I knew there was no way that I would get my fingerprints before I had to leave. So I frantically called the FBI to find out what could be done to speed up the process. The first receptionist I spoke with told me that I was not the only person who needed a CRC and that I would have to wait a whole twelve weeks again. I got off the phone, shed some tears and called Chris. He said, "Call them back, I will take you there myself if I have to."(What a sweet boyfriend.) So I called again, the second receptionist told me to write on the outside of the envelope and that was the best I could do. I mentioned driving there and she told me that I wouldn't have been allowed in. So, went back and got my fingerprints again but this time had them checked by both McDonough and Knox County police (yes, I drove to Macomb and Galesburg the same day just to see that they looked accurate.) I called Adventure Teaching and they told me to speed up my Visa process, I could do a State CRC. This cost me another two weeks and $16, but it was worth it. I had to drive to Springfield to get my Apostille. This was simple and cost only $4 for 2 documents. I went to Macomb to find FedEx shipping, and found a private company that ships for FedEx, UPS and DHL. They charged me $75 to ship my documents overseas. Chris told me that his cost half that. Word of advice: Don't ship from a private company. So back to the FBI CRC, I called on January 4th and was told that my background check was complete and should take up to 7 days to send. My FBI CRC came in on January 12, 2011. The total amount of time it took for me to receive the CRC was 17 weeks. Nothing like last minute!

October 15, 2010

We were told we wouldn't hear from anyone till late November, but instead we get a wonderful E-mail from Adventure Teaching telling us we have a job to a School called EtonHouse. EtonHouse is located in Bundang, South Korea, a suburb of Seoul. This is a pre-school (Kindergarten I think) that focuses on Teaching English, Math and Science. After a wonderful interview experience with our soon to be boss Kaye, we got job offers. Even better, I was told that they wanted me to implement Physical Education and for Danelle to do some Music. This pre-school focus on a more western style of teaching where there is more socialization and play time. A normal Korean school has kids study, study, study and not focus on the simple things that kids like to do like play time. So we were asked to teach a lot of different subjects and a teaching style that we are both use too. This was such a great fit for Danelle because of her experience and I didn't know if I could find another school that would let me teach P.E. so we accepted the job.

January 5, 2011

Once our visa information had been sent to Korea, we had to wait for our Visa Identification Number (VIN). Adventure Teaching waited for both of our information before they processed it.
We received an email with our VIN numbers and had to contact the Korean consulate to schedule an interview. We were told that they could be done face to face or via webcam. We checked the location and had to go to Chicago for our interview and turns out they no longer do webcam interviews. The interview was set for the morning of January 5th. We had a list of things that we were supposed to bring along with us for this interview.

  • Visa Application
  • Resume
  • 1 sealed transcript
  • 1 Passport Picture
  • Passport
  • Copy of the Passport
  • Consul's Checklist
  • Health Form
  • $45 in cash or cashier's check
So it turns out that we didn't need the resume or the transcripts. Chris and I had a 9:45 interview and were confused that it was at the same time. The interview was in the NBC tower in Chicago and we were both very nervous about it. We ended up meeting another gentleman that was interviewing as well. When the receptionist came to for us to interview, she called all three of us at the same time. We interviewed together. We walked back to the consulate's office and he had us all sit on the same couch, side by side. He brought a chair over and asked us all what our New Year's resolutions were, where we attended college, our degrees, and what we plan to do in Korea. When he got to Chris' answer about his degree (physical education), the consulate stopped him. The consulate said "Oh, Physical Education, I have a bad back." He went on to explain that he had gone to the gym and supposedly pulled something in his back. So he asked Chris to teach him some stretches to help his back. Chris said that it would be easier to show him instead of telling him. Without a pause the consulate offered him the floor. Chris got down and showed him and few stretches and the man got down and mimicked the stretches. They both stood up and the consulate told us that we all passed. After that, he told us that we were to help him with some English that he was learning. He had several packets of political conversations that we read to him and had to explain what they meant. We came across a phrase about the "Grand Ole Opry." Chris said, "Danelle sang there." I explained that I didn't sing there, but I've been there and know a lot about country music. The consulate said "You sing?!? I have something for you." He grabbed a copy of the Star Spangled Banner and had me sing it to him. That was our interview....and we were nervous?!