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!