Monday, September 28, 2009

Korean Pop Music

Today, my fifth and sixth grade returning students presented me with a list of Korean pop songs they felt I should listen to. Um...lets just say I am FAR from disappointed. They are catchy, and (more often than not) hilarious. So here they are (with a link to their YouTube vidoes) for your listening and viewing pleasure.

MC Mong: Indian Boy
Vaguely offensive...and SO RANDOM. What is with the dancing football players?!

MC Mong: Ice Cream
Totally bizarre and hilarious. The translated lyrics made my life.  It is also SOOOO KOREAN!  I love that he's up late playing Starcraft.

Big Bang: Lies
You know what American music videos need more of? Roller skates.

Big Bang: Haru Haru
What happened to the rest of the bill on that baseball hat?! Why is everything SO DRAMATIC? These are the boys that literally make my third and fourth grade girls DISSOLVE into a fit of giggles, shrieks, and clapping. Who am I to judge? They can come sing to me in the hospital.

Wonder Girls: Tell Me
You may think to yourself "Whoa, those girls looks like they are 13! Especially the one in the glasses." Not far from the truth. All of the Wonder Girls are apparently in high school. When they debuted, some were in middle school. Crazy! I am not sure I trust their juvenile super powers to protect my city.

Wonder Girls: So Hot
For being based in a conservative society, those girls are in some pretty skanky skirts! I also love that they have embraced the vogue so whole heartedly.  I have said before (and I will say again) that the 80s never really left Korea.

2PM: Again and Again
Somebody get that girl some curtains! But seriously, this is one of my favorites. I am going to have to do some deeper investigation into 2PM. (As a funny side note, there is, apparently, also a group called 2AM. Awesome. A kid told me that 2PM was boys and 2AM was girls, but that was later proven to be false.)

2ne1 AND Big Bang: Lollipop
This is a big deal collaboration in Korea. Two GIANT bands getting together to make this song. And they play the shit out of it at stores, in ads, etc. I personally love that the early 90s threw up all over this music video.

2ne1: I Don't Care
Apparently we have huge fans of chunky jewelry, absurd hair styles, and bizarre vests here. I love this song. And their English is both intelligible and used correctly, so that is a PLUS. Actually this is also one of my favorites. Also, why don't we have blooper reels at the end of our music videos?

Girls Generation: Genie
This one is for you, Carl. Seriously, these girls are gorgeous! And there are NINE of them! Insanity. This song is also played EVERYWHERE. And it is damn catchy. I kind of love it.

Outsider: Alone
I heard "Korean rapper" and immediately laughed a little. But I take back my initial instinct, as this guy is pretty beast. According to unsubstantiated YouTube comments, he can rap 17 syllables per second, which is obscenely fast. And check out those weepy rap lyrics! Awesome!

Super Junior: Sorry Sorry
I am not even going to address that bizarre ass opening. Any group that has 13 people should be totally insane, and yet Super Junior some how makes it work. I am picking up what they are putting down. I LOVE the repeated synchronized dance in a variety of suits.

Super Junior: It's You
Mmhmm, yeah. Yeah. I definitely love them. Look at those little sad faces! How can you resist?! You know how the boy bands in the US all had the same "roles" in them, no matter the group? How do you fill 13 different roles? How do you even design 13 different roles? "We need the baby faced guy, the guy with the crazy asymmetrical hair, the tall guy, the feminine guy, the guy with an earring, the guy..."

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into K-Pop as much as I have. What a great way to waste a couple hours of my afternoon! Thanks kids!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Catching Up!

On Sunday, Brigid and I met to go see Rent the Musical.  Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, who were the original Mark and Rodger on Broadway and in the movie, played their characters and it was...amazing.  Seriously fantastic.  I am kind of glad I went on the last day or I would have had the urge to go see it again.  I was really excited for Adam Pascal since he was the originial Broadway lead in two of my top 5 musicals (Rent and Aida) and he did not disappoint.  But even better was Anthony Rapp who totally OWNED that musical.  I was all a twitter from seeing them for DAYS afterwards.  It was totally worth the money.

After the musical we headed over to Insadong to do some shopping and eat some delicious dumplings for dinner.  We walked around Insadong for a while where I picked up a birthday gift for my mom and a handmade tea set for myself.  It was just too beautiful.  Plus I bargained her down more than $30 from her original offer, so I really can't complain!

My tea set.

Monday I came home from school feeling especially crappy.  I couldn't breathe all day and by the evening I had a splitting headache.  I went to bed really early and when I woke up on Tuesday morning feeling the same, I called Sienna and told her I felt too bad to come into work.  After hearing my voice she said it was fine and told me I needed to stay home and go to the hospital.

I did a little research online about hospitals and ended up finding a state department suggested hospital in the next district over.  I called and booked an appointment at Asan Hospital's international clinic for 3:00pm.  Then I went back to sleep for about 5 more hours.  I caught a taxi over to the hospital and it turned out to be only about 10 minutes (and around $4) away.  The wonderful and sweet nurses got me all checked in and I saw the doctors, both of whom spoke excellent English.  The main doctor decided that I needed to have a head x-ray done to take a look at my sinuses and she orded some blood work because during my initial medical check the bloodwork had shown a higher than normal white blood count.  When I got sent out to the other departments they sent me with an English speaking buddy, so that was awesome.  They whisked me off to have my blood drawn and my head x-rayed and while I was gone they called in my prescription for Sudafed so it was delivered to their office.  They were fast, efficient, extremely nice, and obviously knew what they were doing.  My buddy also escorted me to pay my bill and get my Asan medical card with my personalized ID on it.  I could not have asked for a more pleasant experience.  If you ever get sick in Seoul, consider going to Asan Medical Center.

Today I took another sick day because I felt bad again and I had to go back to the clinic to have my x-ray read so we could figure out what was wrong.  Dr. Choi pulled up my x-ray on her computer and let me look at it.  She pointed out where my sinuses were and then showed me another x-ray as an example of what my sinuses SHOULD look like.  While your sinuses should show up on the x-ray as basically black areas, my right sinus was almost completely white because there was so much fluid in it.  Diagnosis: acute sinus infection.  Result: I came home with a big bag of meds.  I scored a month of Augmentin, a month of prescription strength Sudafed, and a stash of Nasonex to use so that I can prevent the NEXT sinus infection.
I felt like a drug dealer carrying all of this home!

I taxied back, popped into the store real quick and hung out around the apartment for a bit before going out to dinner with South Africa Laura and Angie at this cheap and delicious little place down the street.  Tonight I am going to hit the sack early in preparation for a long day back at work (and after school) tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who wished for my speedy recovery.  Hopefully I will kill this thing and be back to breathing in no time!

Catching Up!

Well the rest of last week (all one day of it...) sailed by uneventfully and it was finally time for the weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, Angie, Noyoun and I headed out to Gangnam to meet people and visit the Dr. Fish Cafe.  We met up with Brigid, English Tom, Sal, Laura from Chicago and Brigid.  Mina (Korean American Tom's friend) met up with us later at the cafe.  After struggling juuust a little bit to find it, we made it into the cafe.  It is really quite a nice place with comfy chairs, people scattered all around reading and talking, and unlimited fresh baked bread when you order drinks.  We sat down for a while and had our drinks before it was time for us to go up to the Dr. Fish tanks.

Before you got to the tanks, you had to wash your feet off in this little foot shower.  Then you picked at seat at one of the tanks.  We ended up in the tank with the smaller fish by some random chance.

One ot two tanks with seat cushions.

The fishies were definitely ready to eat.  They were swimming around with their mouths open at even a HINT of feet. If fish could salivate, I think these were doing it.

Laura and I posing.

The "big fish" tank with Angie, Brigid, Noyoun, and Tom.

The fish were definitely an interesting feeling as they nibbled on your feet.  Some people with really ticklish feet did not handle it too well and had to keep taking their feet out (ahem, ahem, Natasha and Sal).
Sal could not handle it.  Hence the face.

Here is a little video to show you how thins went down:
Fish Feet from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

We had quickly lost track of time so we realized we were now going to be late to the baseball game.  We said goodbye to Noyoun and Mina and booked it out of the Dr. Fish Cafe (stopping to wash and sanitize our feet in the foot shower, mind you).  We headed over to Sports Complex to meet up with Esther and Sue and  see Seoul's Doosan Bears take on Busan's Lotte Giants.

The stadium is on the same complex as the Olympic Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies were held for the Seoul Olympics.  This is the outside of the baseball stadium.

It is very interesting to me that all of the sports teams here have their sponsoring company as part of their team name (and cheers).  Doosan and Lotte are both companies here in Korea, so you have to imagine going to a game like the NY WalMart Yankees versus the Baltimore Target Origles.  So random.  We bought our tickets and headed into the stadium. (On the way in you can also buy bags of beer.  Like big cans were about $2.50 so we brought some in with us so that we wouldn't have to pay concession stand prices.  Can you imagine being able to bring your own food and drinks into any professional sports game at home?)
The tickets were only 8,000won, or about $6.50.  Little did we know that it was because we would be STANDING the whole game...

Yeah...turns out that baseball is MAD POPULAR here and the stadium was absolutely PACKED.  Like people-didn't-have-seats-so-they-were-sitting-two-deep-on-all-of-the-steps-creating-a-gigantic-fire-trap packed.
The packed stadium.

Good thing we didn't need to get up and down the steps too quickly for anything, as there were bodies all over them!

Brigid and Laura (the obvious Cubs fans from Chicago) and I at the game.

Enjoying the sun.

Overall the game was (as) decent (as a baseball game can be), even though the Doosan Bears (home team) lost to the Giants by one point/run/whatever they call it.  After the game, we went back over to Gangnam to chill at a restaurant and have some drinks (mmm, pomegranate flavored soju is delicious...).  The menu at this restaurant was absolutely ABSURD.

Gigantic and overwhelmed with pictures.  As Laura said "as a graphic designer, this is my WORST NIGHTMARE!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So Tired!

I came home today pretty exhausted after a really long day.  It wasn't long like bad, it was just LONG.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I leave the house at 7:30am and get home around 7:00pm.  They are long.  Work was fairly quiet today as the fourth graders are pretty chill.  I planned a really relaxed craft activity for my after school classes so that wasn't bad either.  I was in my third (and last) section of after school when a boy says to me "Teacher, you're very tired, yes?" and I was like "I'm a little tired, why?" and he said "Because you eyes, underneath, is all dark."


I have just been sleeping really crappily because of my cold/sinuses/allergies to life.  Whenever I take NyQuil-esque medicine to help breathe in the night my sleep isn't as restful as it normally is.  And I wake up feeling all fuzzy like it hasn't worn off yet.  On Tuesdays I (super embarassingly) fell asleep during a third grade class.  Third grade is the most hands-off for me as Sienna runs most of it by herself with occasional support for me.  She told me to take a seat in the back of the room and all of a sudden I find myself nodding off during the tenth rendition of "Do You Like Apples."  A student was like "Teacher, are you tired?"  Um...what gave me away?  Hahaha.

I came home tonight and cooked up some Old Bay ramen (patent pending) and watched some delightful reality TV from home (ANTM and SYTYCD) and an episode of Bones.  As I told Renee earlier, it sounds shallow and dumb, but the one thing I miss the very most from home right now is watching TV with friends.  I sit here alone in my apartment watching shows on my computer and long for the evenings watching them on the big screen with Debbie and Sammie (and occasionally Christina, haha) and having scathing conversations about everything from plot twists to color choices to casting mistakes.   Somehow it is just not as satisfying to send e-mails and g-chat messages that say things like:
  • "Where is Michael Kors?! And what was with the bitchy stylist with the squnched up face?"
  • "That Jesus girl Amber's voice makes me want to die. Thank God she's gone." 
  • "Really? Really writers? What is the story with the bitchy pregnant girl Heather? And am I REALLY supposed to believe that George delivered that baby?!"
  • "Sookie is so dumb.  Eric is so gorgeous.  I'm glad Jason is back in the spotlight."
  • "You must watch Vampire Diaries! It is like True Blood meets Secret Life with tons of indie music, copious amounts of teen angst, and an overworked fog machine."
I want to talk to real people, live, as I watch things.  Alas, I am generally watching in the weeeeee hours of east coast morning.

Anyways, I am going to pop some meds and hit the sack.  Hopefully I can rest up and regain some of my lost sleep.  Saturday I will hopefully get a chance to sleep in before going to get a Dr. Fish pedicure and hitting the Doosan Bears baseball game with a bunch of people.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Mom Rules!

Yesterday I got a care package from my mom, complete with passion fruit tic tacs, Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion for my co-teacher (they don't have B&BW here and my co-teacher loves that scent from when she lived in the US), five tiny bottles of scented hand sanitizer, a Girl Scout calendar, whistle, stickers, three new shirts and a crapton of cold and sinus medication. The most exciting of these things were the shirts (I am so sick of all of my clothes already!) and the sinus medication (the other night I broke and went into a Korean pharmacy where I tried to pantomime congestion after which the woman looked at me like I was crazy. I used words like decongestant, stuffy, can't breathe....and nothing. Finally a random guy was like "nasal blockage" and gave me some pills...all in Korean. So Young confirmed that they are decongestants and told me the dosage. But now I won't have to take them since I am back in the wonderful world of Tylenol Cold and Sinus.

Also, last night I was leaving my favorite restuarant and a college aged girl ran after me. Her parents own the restaurant and she asked if I would help her practice her English. Her nameis Sang Ah and Angie and I are meeting her tonight for dinner. She is going to teach us some Korean, also. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh That Sweet Music!

That sweet music must be somewhere else...cause it was not being performed here.

Traditional Korean Music from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

My Class Singing!

Do you like apples, apples?  Do you like apples, apples?  Yummy yummy, apples apples.  Yummy yummy, I like apples.  Sung 579billion times.

Class Singing from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

Class Playing a Game!

Check out my kids getting all excited to play a game.  This is pretty much par for my day.

Class Playing Game from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

I Told You!

I told you I'd update more often!  Mostly I just had some more pictures that I wanted to share today.

I forgot to mention that when we went down to Insadong we took in a small portion of a traditional concert.  We could only handle a small portion as it literally sounded like small animals being tortured and the mics were up too loud so it felt like our ears would bleed.  Video on the way!

While in Insadong we also spotted this gem of an ad.  Sadly, we did not eat at the restaurant it was advertising.

I had to laugh when we walked past this bar last weekend.  Um...could it possibly get any more ostentatious and gaudy?  You know that's how us Americans like things!

Sixth grade girl's summer vaction essay.  So dramatic!  Click on it to make it bigger.  I didn't correct this, the Korean teacher did. (The circles are past tense verbs that we have been working on, not errors.)

Sixth grade boy's essay.  I love the parts about fat Europeans and lots of wine.

I also wanted to show you what my classroom looks like.

Our door sign.

The view from the back of the room.

View from the front of the room.

Third graders in class.

Volunteering answers.

Getting ready to play a game.

Vidoes to come soon!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yesterday I Ate Larvae!

Is that enough to whet your appetite?  I'll start by saying I'm sorry I have been gone so long.  Now that I'm actually teaching I have significantly less time on my hands.  And I let the blog go so long that then I kept thinking about all the time it would take me to catch up and putting it off even more.  FAIL, I know.  But here I am.  Back to share my ridiculous stories and bring some light to your day.

Overall, even with teaching a full load of 28 classes per week (including my after school groups) I feel like I am doing very little work.  I think back to all the stressful days teaching at home and even my worst days here aren't anywhere close to that bad.  I have yet to come home, burst into tears and question whether I will ever want to teach again.  So....progress!  I spend most of my day making kids laugh, playing games, and answering questions.  I cannot do anything close to complaining.

Last Monday I finally got to start teaching.  I can already tell that Mondays are going to be the worst because they are full of the dreaded monsters known as SIXTH GRADERS.  Really these kids aren't too bad, they just rough house a house and get REALLY loud, REALLY fast.  My voice threatens to go by the end of the day as I spend most of it talking over them.

On Monday afternoon I got to meet my first "special class" of returning students.  Um...hilarious.  These are fifth and sixth graders who have lived most of their lives in another country and just moved to/back to Korea recently.  They speak too little Korean to be integrated into the regular classes, so they are segregated out into a little class of 8 students.  They are awesome, and I can already tell these guys are going to be a highlight of my week.  When I asked them what they missed most or had the most trouble getting adjusted to, Faith said "Food.  Good food.  I need an IHOP and a Taco Bell" Dustin said "Have you tried to go to the bathroom here?!  It is just a little hole and you have to like squat over it.  And when you're finally done with that, you go out to wash your hands and you have to touch the SAME SOAP that everyone else touched!  It is terrible!"  I loved them even more for picking up on things that I had specific had issues with.  Communal soap totally grosses me out, I fear the squat toilets deeply, and I miss pancakes like it is my job!  There is one girl in the class from Japan and I feel bad for her because she doesn't speak Korean OR English.  It must be really difficult for her.

Remember: You can click on any of the pictures to see them larger.
The horror.  You can even see stuff down in it!

They are truly heinous.

On Monday I also left school early so that I could go allllll the way over to Mokdong Immigration office to apply for my ARC and multiple entry visa.  I was originally planning to go back and get it when it was done, but the journey was so hellish that I decided I would just pay the $3 and have them send it via courier.  Monday night I met up with Angie, Sal, and South African Laura to get some food at the delicious little noodle place in our building.  We each got a dish of our own (I got the black bean good) and we shared a big dish of the chicken meal (mmmm).  It cost me a grand total of 5,000won...which is right around $4.  Awesome. 

Tuesday at school was pretty uneventful, it was third graders all day and they are precious.  They still laugh at all the "jokes" in the book and videos and ask tons of questions without being too shy.  Tuesday afternoon I started my after school program and that seemed to go pretty well.  There are 5 groups of various English proficiency that we rotate through.  There are five of us that teach Fun Based Activities, Pros and Cons (debate), Reading/Writing, Science and Social Studies.  Each class is only 40 minutes long and it really flies by.  Easy (and often fun) money.  On my way home I managed to get on the wrong train because I wasn't paying attention so I had to get off and turn around, adding about 15 minutes to my already long commute.  Oh well, lessons learned.

Wednesday is my only real day of mixed classes (two 6th grade, one 5th grade, one 3rd grade) so that kept me on my toes.  Wednesday I am also done after lunch is over at like 1:30pm so that is nice.  I basically just hung out and internet stalked people, as per usual. 

Earlier in the week we had all gotten this absolutely precious e-mail from our landlady Liz asking how things were going and basically just checking in on us.  Angie and I decided that we wanted to invite her and her husband out for dinner, which we set up for Wednesday night.  Since we don't really know the area, we asked them to pick and we ended up at this traditional bbq restaurant very close to our house.  Candice from South Africa also joined us, so we had a nice little dinner for 5.  This was the type of restaurant where you take off your shoes, sit on the floor, and cook at your table.  Once I got used to my legs falling asleep, it was quite nice!  We had duck, which was very good. "Mama Liz" and "Papa Kim," as they told us to call them, kept giving us more and more food!  We also had some awesome (and super spicy) duck soup to eat.  At the end of the evening they wouldn't let us pay and I look forward to returning the favor sometime in the near future.  After dinner, they invited us up to their apartment and deck.  The live in the top floor of the building, which is half house and half open deck overlooking the city.  It was a beautiful night and we had good conversation and awesome fruit with a great view.

Thursday was great because it was fourth grade and they were full of random questions.  Thursdays also include my smallest class, my first and second grade returning students.  So tiny!  When I walked in and explained that I would be teaching them, this adorable little girl Isablle said "But teacher...we already have a teacher."  So I had to explain that I would only be there a little part of the week and that the rest of the time she would still be with her other teacher.  Then she said "Teacher, when I am in school my Korean Teacher tells me I have to take my shoes off so I don't get the floors dirty.  But I don't want to wear these." And she points at her school shoes. "I just don't understand!  At my school in America I never had to take off my shoes!"  So Young (my other co-teacher) was saying that when she and her daughter moved back to Korea her daughter was in the first grade and came home crying becasue she didn't know how to use a squat toilet.  There is a lot for little brains to process, but I think it is probably easier for the littler ones to adapt than the older ones.


After school I did two more of my first lesson and one of my second, so things sailed right along pretty smoothly.  When I was done with the afterschool program I went over to Gangnam and met up with Helen for dinner and coffee.  We had a nice relaxing dinner in a random little restaurant and talked a lot about how the year is going so far.  It is so interesting to me to hear how different everyone's experiences are.  More and more I am becoming aware that this whole program is a total crap shoot...and I got SO lucky.  My apartment is small, but great.  It is clean, in a nice area, and our landlords are awesome.  My school is supportive, my co-teachers are fantastic (and speak English VERY well so we have very few miscommunications), and the kids are overall superb.  I really lucked out.  Helen has not been quite so lucky and has a harder time adjusting because of some mandates put down by her school, and because she is teaching at an all boys middle school with low English proficiency (so I would probably be bashing my head on a wall by now).  But we are all adjusting and surviving, so that is good!

Friday was another uneventful day of teaching and I spent the day with fifth graders and my third and fourth grade returning students.  One of the funniest things about the week is finding out all the "English names" that kids have chosen.  Christina thinks that there must have been some list that we had to choose from in French/Spanish class beacuse we never had any really off the wall names like some of these kids.  In one sixth grade class, I have EIGHT Brians.  (Andie also has a Brain...oh the misfortunes of switching vowels.) I don't even know that many Brians in the states! (A little digging revealed that there is a Korean-American pop star named Brian, hence the obsession.) 

The only English name I refused was "Cheese Pizza."  Some other qualities names were Rucy (Koreans often mix up r's and l's), Francesco, and Peach.  A personal favorite would have to be Cyclaps...which I am assuming is a bastardization of cyclops.  Awesome.  Cyclaps it is.  I almost cried laughing when Andie started talking about a student in her class named Transformer.  She said she can't call on him without laughing and it is always difficult not to laugh when the teacher says "Transformer, sit down."  Amazing.  Most of the girls names chosen are kind of old fashioned, like Sally, which is also interesting to me.

As school was winding down on Friday afternoon at like 2pm, I got an awesome surprise: my Alien Registration Card was delivered! This was an exciting time for me.  Sienna and I went over and got me a KB bank account and I got...drumroll please...a cell phone!  So once all my friends get their ARCs and cell phones, all will be well with the world and we will be in much better contact.  I will post pictures of my phone at a later isn't really that interesting.

Friday night a bunch of people in our building accepted Liz's offer to go out to dinner with her and her husband.  We ended up going to the same restaurant, and somehow Angie and I were seated in front of the duck again, but it was very good (again). 

Angie and I through the steam of cooking duck.
Andie and Arianna.
Melissa, Frank and Cory.
Papa Kim, Andrew, Mama Liz

Their rooftop view where we retired after dinner again.
Awesome desert spread: cookies, concord grapes, watermelon, apples, and dok (rice cakes).

After dinner, Angie, Andie and I went over to Cheonho to meet up with English Tom for some drinks.  We relaxed for a while at this little chicken and beer place swapping stores, and shared some beers and a bottle of soju.  After being there a while, it started to drizzle.  Then, it started to POUR.  In the time it took us to dash back to the metro (about 7 minutes) we were totally soaked...and earned some interesting looks from passersby.

On Saturday, I went totally sloth mode.  I hung out in my apartment, ate ramen with Old Bay on it (seriously, do not knock it til you try it....that stuff is delicious and tastes like Maryland is having a party in my mouth) and caught up on TrueBlood, ANTM, and Secret Life online.  It was a well spent day!

Sunday I met up with Angie and English Tom and we went down to Insadong and the surrounding areas.  We started out walking around on the street in Insadong, looking at the shops and stopping for an awesome steamed dumpling lunch (on the floor again). 
Streets near Insadong.

While walking I spotted my first crazy street food and decided to try it.  Tom said it was beetles, but upon research it turns out that it is actually silkworm larvae...which somehow is grosser to me.  I paid like $1.60 for a cup and we ended up eating...three of them.  They were squishy and not delicious.  I had to surrepticiously dispose of my larvae cup.
Larvae being boiled.  It has a rather unpleasant smell.
My own little cup of tasty goodness.  When you tried to stab them with a toothpick, they made it difficult and got all squishy.
Tom was man enough to eat one with me...Angie was not.
Angie with her less adventurous (yet significantly more tasty) baking soda and sugar candy.

Then we wandered over to the Cheonggyecheon Stream and sat for a little while relaxing under a bridge.  Finally we ended up over near the Gwanghwamun gate where they have put in fountains, a big statue, and a huge landscaped area that is beautiful.  There is also big topiary sculptures of Haechi, which is the mythical animal that is the symbol of Seoul.

Watching the kids play in the fountains was SO funny.  They were so cute.
The landscaping was stunning.
There were huge flower designs and swirls made out of tons of different plants- including some cacti!
He has kind of a happy, walrus-y face.
And check out those chubby 'tocks.
Much like the (in)famous Wendigo, the Haechi is an animal comprised of many halves of animals.

After wandering around Gwanghwamun, we headed back towards Insadong where we had a fantastic (but crazy expensive for Korea) dinner of galbi, which is marinated ribs cooked over charcoal at your table.  We thought it was 30,000won per table, but it turned out to be 30,000won per PERSON.  Which is only like $25 and there was a lot of food, it was just way more than I am used to paying here.  Then we walked back to the metro and headed home to rest up for another week of school.
Our delcious galbi and sides.
Streets at night.

Today was nothing special at school.  I am (still) battling a terrible cold/sinus infection/allergies and since I got here I've used up all of my decongestants/antihistimines...and I brought like 3 boxes of them.  I felt pretty terrible and yelling over sixth graders did not make the situation any better.  At least the rest of the week just gets easier!

I promise promise promise to update more often!  Thanks for all the messages of encouragement.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lazy Sunday!

Well after being up until 2:30am last night putting things up online, I slept in nice and late until around 11:30am today.  Then I talked to mom online for a while, tidied up my apartment, and took a shower.  Later I headed over to Angie's and we went out to the store down the street from our house.  I needed some essentials (like a drying rack, bath mat, and peanut butter) and she wanted to pick up a few things as well. 

On the way I realized that I really hadn't taken any pictures of my street or building so I decided to do so.

This is my street just as you turn down it off the main road.

If you see the orange DVD and blue PC signs on the right, that is just outside the entrace to our building.

My building.  I live on the third floor.  The ground floor has restaurants, stores, and a DVD rental place.  The basement of our building is a PC Bang (internet cafe).

This is the open market we walk through to get to our bigger grocery store.  It has everything you can imagine.  I caught this photo at a brief quiet moment.

While at the store, Angie and I decided that we would try to cook for ourselves tonight and we randomly chose two of the numerous kinds of ramen being offered at the store.  Angie bought a six pack of "spaghetti" and I bought (safer) beef ramen.  We came home and unpacked our stuff and Angie came over so we could make dinner.  While it was cooking, we watched the ramen video on EatYourKimchi and were told that the spaghetti ramen was, by far, the worst stuff out there.  Luckily I think we must have gotten a different brand...or just have very different taste buds...because ours was alright.  The beef stuff had NO flavor, probably because I put in way too much water since the directions were in Korean.  But a hit or two of Old Bay made the noodles tasty.  Desert was some grapes and apple slices with peanut butter (which is seriously SO GOOD). 
Angie with our ramens.

It was a good thing that today was pretty relaxing, because I am a little aprehensive about teaching tomorrow.  I am sure things will be fine, it is just normal first-real-day butterflies.  I am going to stay online a bit longer so I can video chat with my mom and then I'm off to sleep.  Tomorrow afternoon I am also going all the way out to Mokdong to the immigration office to apply for my ARC so that I can get phone/internet/cable/etc.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly!