Saturday, November 28, 2009

Koi and rice cakes

Being in Korea has brought so many amazing and different moments. There have been the moments where I think "I'm on the next plane out of here..." and there have been the moments that have been named the "We love South Korea" moments. In all of these, I have been slowly discovering what it means to be alive and dive into the unknown.

This video of of people feeding rice cakes to enormous Koi in a pond at Duryu Park here in Daegu. It was such a fun experience watching these kids and adults feeding the fish. It was so relaxing and we quickly became involved when a little girl and her dad offered us a rice cake to feed the fish. It was relaxing and amazing. It was a beautiful day and definately a "We love South Korea" moment.

currently listen to: SHINee, Ring Ding Dong (K pop!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

observations part 1

Here are a few observations I have made in my short time here so far-

1. Traffic is out of control and I would never dare to drive here.
2. Traffic laws apparently do not apply to those who drive scooters.
3. The kids here go to bed at 12:00AM and wake up around 7:00AM (I would have died at my desk by third grade).
4. The Koreans love cell phones. Not only is there a cell phone store on every block, I have seen children as young as seven with a cell phone.
5. The favorite method of selling things is using a loud speaker/megaphone of some type to make sure everyone knows what you are selling and that you are selling it.
6. Everything advertised on TV involves some type of song and dance and lots of sex appeal.
7. There is rarely soap in the restrooms and if there is, it is bar soap. However, there is hand sanitizer everywhere, so clearly that makes everything better.
8. It is not rude to stare at people who look different (for example, us).
9. If you see something at E Mart that you want, you better buy it because it won't be in the same place next time, or it may just be gone (popcorn!).
10. You just put your garbage out by a light pole in front of your building and garbage bags are apparently an expensive luxury.

Surely I will have a hundred more lists, but this is a decent start.

currently listening to: Lots of Fiona Apple.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Korean food coma

It's funny how quickly you can adjust to something new. While we have only been here about four weeks, I feel like a seasoned pro. However, there are still thousands of things to be seen and to do. My goal for the next few weeks is to explore all of what Daegu has to offer. There are amazing mountains with beautiful trails, temples, and views that overlook the entire city. There are parts of the city that have bike trails, a lake, and amazing restaurants (so we hear anyway). A weekend is not enough time to do hardly anything it seems. While we have been getting a late start most Saturdays, it is time to make our quick weekends count. I feel like getting on a bus and seeing where it takes us.

This weekend was mostly eaten up by an open house at our school. However, our director did treat us to a traditional Korean lunch afterwards. It was amazing and I have never seen so much food in my life. The entire table was covered with a hundred tiny dishes and each was filled with little tidbits of something different. From fried fish and blue crabs to tiny peppers and bean sprouts, there was so much to try. The bulgogi was hot and amazing, and we had perfect purple rice that was made into a soup in a hot stone pot. We sat on the floor with all of our coworkers and enjoyed an awesome meal and definitely had a little bonding time. It was a real treat and I look forward to more meals like that.

Everything is communal on a Korean table, so you don't have your own plate. It seems that in a country paralyzed by fear of the swine flu it wouldn't be that way, but it is. You just stick your chopsticks into each dish, grabbing a bite of everything. That takes some time to adjust to, but you get over it pretty quickly. It is a great way to eat, it encourages quite a bit of conversation. I love Korean food and it is so filling I typically fall into a "Korean food coma" afterwards. I have learned to appreciate a good food coma, it soothes the soul.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miles away

So, living in Daegu has been surprisingly easy so far. Exploring our neighborhood was cake. And, with a little help from our fellow teachers, heading downtown on the bus was a skill we mastered after one trip. Corinne and I have taken to walking the streets and just taking crazy turns and walking down random streets, only to end up knowing exactly where we are still. We are careful to make note of landmarks and pay lots of attention to the direction we are headed. So with that approach, we have headed out face first into Daegu. Of course, I wouldn't recommend this much exploring for the directionally challenged, or in other Korean cities which may not be as easy to navigate. So I would use your best judgment if exploring Korea!

Waiting to get the internet in our apartments has felt like decades. Without the internet on my laptop, I feel completely disconnected from the world. I have no idea what is going on in the news or what the weather is like back home. While we have time at school to check Facebook on the little kids’ computers, it isn’t enough time to catch up on all the gossip and my favorite TV shows (which I am miserably behind on). In order to have the internet and a bank account here, you have to be a resident alien. That requires a medical exam. The medical exam was definitely an experience I won’t soon forget.

There are so many things that happen everyday that I want to tell everyone. From the littlest things like how cute all the little cars are that speed around, to huge things like the fact I ate a silkworm last night (probably won't do that again...) and the fact that we are planning a Christmas trip to Jeju Island. I am trying to settle into teaching, and it isn't easy by any means. Not that I ever thought for a minute that teaching was an easy job, it is just not the type of job I am used to. There is no immediate gratification, or any solid proof of the work you have done. So I feel like I am running uphill all day, screaming through a blue medical mask that makes me sound like the teachers from Charlie Brown. However, the kids are adorable, and I mean adorable.

They say the funniest things and put the most hilarious sentences together and draw adorable pictures of stuff. Today I asked the youngest kids if they liked ketchup; they said yes, but that they liked chocolate ketchup the best (referring to chocolate syrup but they assumed that ketchup was the consistency, not the name of the product). So those times are priceless.

Currently listening to: Where the Streets Have No Name, U2.