Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Seoul and Beyond

SO excited to be sitting in the Tokyo Narita airport at the moment about to board our plane to Honolulu! We left Seoul at noon today and have had a few hours here in Tokyo to catch up on the large amount of sleep we've missed out on the past week. Christmas Eve/Christmas we spent at school working on getting everything organized for the substitutes we hired to fill in for us for the two days of classes we're going to miss. We had to plan everything out for them in thorough detail as it's quite confusing...5 kindergarten classes all using different books and then 7 different elementary classes each, five of which use different books. Besides the plans for our subs the Korean teachers are giving tests to our classes while we're gone, so we had to write the tests and make appropriate copies. Teaching takes a LOT of time! I don't think it's very common to have so many classes with different preps though. Well, it was all worth it for the reward we are soon to receive.

'Hopefully we'll be on the beach in 24 hours far away from screaming classes of kindergarten children =D I hope that doesn't sound like we're unhappy or anything to be away from them for a short bit...

Merry belated Christmas to you if you're reading this! It doesn't seem like Christmas has come yet as we didn't have any of the normal Christmas events, besides a visit from Santa. I had the assignment/privilege of dressing up in the schools elaborate (and surprisingly big enough) Santa costume. I handed out presents to all the kids and many of them actually believed I wasn't Nolan teacher, but the real deal! Pretty funny, I acted as if I'd fallen asleep and missed the whole thing when they accused me of being Santa after he had continued on his journey to visit more boys and girls. They believed me! It was great =D And now, we really are off, no more delays!

Mele kalikeemaka

Friday, December 5, 2008

Simple Smiles

This is going to be short...but sweet..I promise!

This morning Nolan and I were running a bit late and so I left the house ahead of him so I could get to school quickly. This morning we had kindergarten Birthday PARTY and so I had to prepare some last minute party game things.
As I was scurrying down the street (as it was fridgedly colder than the previous few weeks-winter here you come) I passed a middle aged asian man. We smiled, and then as he was just about to be out of my site he turned around and said in broken English "It's COLD!" This random use of English surprised me and I laughed instantly in agreement with him! He was so cute and kind to offer his little English and say a few words with a smile! It brought a BIG smile to my face!
I continued to scurry my way around the corner and up the street, past the park, and then as a car was turning around the corner a man and wife in their car passed me. The driver's car window was open and as the car turned and our eyes met he smiled and said ANYO ASSEO! (Hello in Korean). I again was taken by surprise. It's freezing, and this couple decided to open their window and say hi!
It doesn't seem like much but the weather was cold, I was walking alone to school for a change, and was greeted with such warmth by the world! hehe. It brighted my day and was a wonderful start to my FRIDAY!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

meandering thoughts

I thought my cough and various other annoying "ailments" would just go away after awhile as I am usually quite healthy and think my body should be used to fighting off bugs from different places. But, since it has been about a month now and I don't feel any better, Elizabeth and I thought it might be a good idea to see if there was anything "pin-pointable" by a doctor and an easy remedy. We heard that Yonsei Severance Hospital had an international clinic, so we headed there yesterday morning as it's the only day of the week we can go and walk-ins are accepted from 9-11:30. The new hospital was just completed a couple years ago and is the biggest in Korea. Gorgeous! I've never been so impressed by a hospital. While waiting to see a doctor we spoke with an American couple and another couple from France/Ireland. The doctor was very sweet, sympathetic, and spoke English perfectly. Apparently I whatever virus I had at the beginning which was just affecting my chest it seemed, moved on up to my head and clogged things up there which an turned into, or caused an ear infection. The doctor made a funny noise when she looked in my ear and then had the intern do the same, guess there's a lot of fluid in there and it grossed her out!=D She prescribed four different prescriptions and almost a fifth, but I insisted I didn't care about discomfort for a bit longer as long as it eventually went away.

Ok, I need to stop cut down on the content of my blogs a bit. As much as I enjoy writing about things, I don't have the patience or time to sit here and recount in such detail. The good news is that I now have medication and am already feeling better including having my taste/smell back, no decreased hearing/headache/pressure on my ear, and the fluids are flowin out better. Now I need to see if the school will reimburse me a bit because we don't have health insurance yet since we don't have our alien cards yet.

Elizabeth and I have been reading a book together called, Relic Quest. A former police investigator goes in search of evidence for the true mount Sinai (Jabal al Lawz) in Saudi Arabia and then the Ark of the Covenant, which is thought to be in Saint Mary of Zion Church in Aksum. All of his searching is guided by scriptures in Exodus, which often give very clear details, including terrain, landmarks, dimensions. I visited Axum when in Ethiopia last year and it is indeed a very far out of the way place that attracts a very small amount of outsiders. What a great hiding place for it to be kept. The author says that Ethiopians (at least some) claim that they have successfully protected the Ark for more than two thousand years and a divine appointment from God gave them poverty so that they would only have th Ark to think about. To me, it would also keep them from abusing their possession of it and prevent too many curious folks from finding it and attempting to take it. For us, it's interesting and exciting read though our beliefs wouldn't waiver even if nothing was found, but for non-believers or skeptics, it seems like a good read which makes the scripture come alive and see that the Bible is real and indeed more than made-up stories. Many more thoughts on this at a later point.

Elizabeth and I are still trying to find a place to worship on Sunday morning. We went to a pretty small gathering two weeks ago, a Chinese/American/Korean mix of people. They meet in a basement of a building and it is kind of like house church in that their is no official pastor and the service is very participatory. After and a half or so, there's a break for lunch, everybody brings something to share. Discussion on weekly readings and prayers are shared after lunch. Last week a couple older ladies invited us and another American couple to their apartment for fellowship after that, so sweet.
On the flip side, wee struggled with wanting to know the music, both the language and tunes, but maybe that's something we are supposed to get past. The distance is also a bit far, a bit over an hour. Today we attended one of the "mega-churches", it was quite LARGE! A Massive amount of people, we sat in one of the many overflow rooms and watched on a tv/listened on our earpieces to the service as it was translated into English. Probably the weirdest church experience I've had, though the first time can always seem a bit strange.

My feelings after a month of being here are that this isn't a place we will be long-term. It feels very much like preparation for working long hours, dealing with foreign situations/people, and learning more about perseverance and how to be independent from family, financial support and the total familiarity of home and non-stop Western culture. I'm sure God has more to reveal to us and I am doing my best to patiently wait and be open to experiencing or doing whatever He calls us to do. The materialism and modernity of Korea is of course very enjoyable/appreciated, but at the same time I feel like I get too wrapped up in it. Maybe that means I need to work at casting off the hold it has on me forever and live with it, or maybe it is a sign we would be more effective as servants of the Kingdom in a country where it's less of a burden. Prayer would be much appreciated as we seek to discern our purpose. It's hard to stay positive and see myself as fully used often times when the days are spent trying to get kids to listen so that they can become "successful", that's what speaking English is supposed to help with.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the saga continues

After having such a positive conversation with the director a couple days ago about the need to tear down all the wall paper and then clean/kill all mold underneath, I thought we were set to go. He said that they would have the wallpaper taken down and no new wallpaper would be put up for at least a few days, maybe even a week. We tried convincing him that the walls should be painted as opposed to putting up new wallpaper since wallpaper paste often encourages mold growth, acting like food. Well, we couldn't convince them to paint, but we thought the disposal of old wallpaper and airing/cleaning of the walls was an acceptable alternative.

Elizabeth and I ran home during our lunch break yesterday afternoon to find all of our wallpaper torn down only 3 hours after leaving for school, so that was good. After being impressed for a moment, we saw rolls of new wallpaper on the floor and a large bucket in the bathroom being filled with water and a powder, wallpaper paste! I grabbed the bottle of mold killer that I'd used on the windows and did my best to make motion, "are you going to clean the walls?" He shook his head and said a few sentences in Korean, so maybe he said, "I'm the wallpaper guy, I don't do cleaning, call somebody else if you want that done." He didn't have any supplies that looked like they were for cleaning, so that helped my conclusion =D

As soon as we got back to school we called the director and explained to him that were were just at the apartment and it looked like the guy was just about to start putting up wallpaper and in fact, seemed to be mixing the wallpaper paste (mold food), but maybe it was a type of treatment. He said he'd call and see what was happening. Ricky said he'd pick us up at our apartment at 7:10 , so Elizabeth and I rushed home and sat outside the apartment as the guy was still there, putting up wallpaper! Ricky called and said he wouldn't be there until 8:15, so we sat outside, avoiding the foul odor of the wallpaper paste. When Ricky arrived we asked him about the wallpaper and he said the landlord had told the wallpaper guy that if the old paper wasn't wet, he should start putting up new wallpaper right away. Apparently Ricky didn't object to this which made us quite peaved as our argument all along was that the mold should be cleaned and the walls at least aired out for a while before anything new was put up. I forgot to say that we weren't sure if the paper being put on the walls was truly wallpaper, or just a crappy paper put on with chemicals to kill/treat the problem and be torn town a few days later. I say crappy because the rapid, sloppy manner in which it was put on made us think it couldn't possibly be meant for the long-term and it was so thin, you could pretty easily see the black patches of mold underneath which hadn't been clearned prior to application.

We're currently contemplating what we'll say to Ricky when we go back with him tomorrow or the next day and see the wallpaper after it has dried, that's what Ricky said we'd do. He thought it would be different after it dried, we'll see! After our brief discussion in the apartment we hopped in Ricky's car and drove to his apartment, though we made a very important stop on the way. Ricky loves buying food from street vendors, so we pulled up next to a stand selling octopus balls and then to another selling pigs feet! He spoke very highly of both and said we'd have a little "homecoming party" when we got to his house with our special foods.

His family warmly greeted us when we arrived, including wife, eight-year-old daughter, Sunny, and five-year-old son, Jae. Elizabeth and I both have Jae in kindergarten, though he's quite shy, no big greeting from him. We put our bags in the room they made up for us with a comfy bed on the floor, then everyone sat around the kitchen/dining room table and ate the delicacies. The pigs feet were, well, DISgusting! They were in full-form, nail included, and not a bit of meat on them, it's all skin, fat, and cartilage turned semi-gelatenous. Elizabeth both tried to choke down a couple bites, but I think Elizabeth won with almost a full bite while I had a few nibbles. His wife made a couple Johnsonville polish sausage in the microwave and cute those up, then we discussed how those are even worse in a way since they have all the reject part in them, though they taste and look a heck of a lot better! I'd rather not know or see exactly what grossness I'm eating.

Despite the food, it was a really enjoyable evening! After the kids went to bed around 9, we sat around for a couple more hours talking with Ricky and his wife, who he calls "man". He lived in the U.S. for a year, including some time in Chicago, where he picked up such a wonderful term of endearment for his wife. We covered past romances, life in Korea and the U.S., religion, divorce. This morning Mrs. O served us rice mixed with special seasoning, stuffed inside some kind of pancake, sweet potatoes, hickima and apples. Definitely Korean style, and very delicious. We were about to find our walking route to school, but we were told we could ride the school bus with the kids! So, we hopped in the yellow van and off we went, and good thing cause it was bitter cold and much further than we thought.

Time to go home or find some dinner!

Today was quite tiring, this teaching thing really takes a lot of energy. I think it would be easier if we weren't constantly fighting with the language barrier.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mold groans

Okay. I have to talk with the director of our school again tonight. I have tried getting ahold of him a couple times already today without success. Director Ricky came over on Saturday and surveyed the mold situation in our apartment along with another guy who I think may be doing some of the work, or hopefully, knows a bit more about the dangers of mold. Due to feeling sick, out of it or just not thinking, Ricky told us that we should start ripping down the wallpaper in the apartment, and we didn't protest. WHAT? Maybe we were too shocked that he would expect us to tear it down when I've told him numerous times that I seem to be allergic to mold and have been feeling sick since my arrival due to the mold problem. Ricky and his associate tore a piece of wallpaper down further that was already peeling from the ceiling, so after they left it was hanging write over where my head lay in bed. Sunday morning, I woke up with a headache, my cough morphed and a wonderfully disgusting amount of phelm in my throat, though the phlem has become commonplace as well as the ear-numbing, death-bed sounding cough. Either it was the wallpaper dropping little particles onto my face or, more likely, the massive amount of particles I inhaled while cleaning off the windows on Saturday. Yes, I know, STUPID! I shouldn't have done any cleaning myself when I think I'm allergic, though getting rid of some of it seemed appealing and I wore one of those eyeblinds the airline gives you over my nose and mouth and rubber gloves. It wasn't wise, but I was sick of seeing it and bought some cleaner that Director Ken said would take it off.

It's so frustrating that I haven't been stronger, more assertive or whatever necessary to make it clear that action needs to be taken to remedy the situation in our apartment, or we must be moved to a new abode. I guess I was hoping that my symptoms are the result of something else and that they'll go away soon and thus not have to go through this whole ordeal. Though, research shows there is a myriad of effects on the body, with at least some of those not being intense hacking or a phlem-filled throat or head. It would be really nice to not have to go through the hassle of moving out of our bedroom (at least) while the wallpaper is stripped and walls treated, though the treatment surely needs to be done to both bedrooms and probably the kitchen as well in certain areas.

Ha, I just got ahold of Ricky and we had a very productive conversation. I didn't hold anything back, though stated in a straightforward manner that Elizabeth and I did not and will not be tearing down the wallpaper as the cleaning I did on Saturday made my reaction worsen. I stated that there is mold in the bedrooms but also on the ceiling and around the floor (that's what we can see), so the cleaning must be very thorough or else those spots may be missed and the problem left unfixed. If that is the case, we will have to move to a new apartment, though we really love our current setup, space and location-wise. He was very receptive and said he thought we should move into his place for the week and that if the problem wasn't fully resolved, we would be moved to a new apartment. It went quite well I thought, now we just have to go home and pack up all our things so they don't get covered in mold and also pack a bag to take to Ricky's house for the week.

That's all for now, gotta get outta school and go have some dinner!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Costco, helping to redefine eating habits around the world

For the most part, since arriving a few weeks ago, I have not been too surprised that Koreans look so healthy and fit. Their diet seems to consist mainly of different pickled vegetables, others raw or steamed and covered in spicy sauce, plenty of seafood, and little meat. Well, every so often Koreans will go to a "Korean bbq" where you sit and grill up your own beef and pork, eating pretty much nonstop meat for at least a half hour. You can eat the meat on its own right off the grill (which is set into your table), or wrap it in Chinese cabbage with a bit of garlic and/or hot pepper sauce if you wish. Eating at such a place is not done too often by the average folk as meat is quite expensive here, with Korean beef being the most expensive contrary to the logic.

Elizabeth and I heard there was a Costco only a couple stops away, so after one failed attempt, we set out again the other night and found it with ease after stopping in at a Dunkin Donuts and asking the cashier who impressed her boss when she was able to pull out "down one block and take left". It ended up being a right, but all we needed was the general direction and distance, the sign isn't too subtle. Besides being split into three levels with long sloping moving walkways connecting the floors (the carts have automatic brakes that stop the cart from moving), prices being double or triple for "American" things, and specialized products catering to local tastes, it is quite similar to the US stores.

What is such a store going to do to the tastes and eating habits of the Koreans who choose or can afford to shop at Costco? Despite bulk-size bags of snickers, M&M's and other American candies costing huge amounts of money, they seemed to be filling many carts. Maybe they were stocking up for the year, though I don't think the kids eying them were going to allow the stash to last that long. When it's so easy to buy mass quantities of candy and numerous different less than healthy frozen foods and whatever else, it seems like eating vegetables and seafood and fresh, healthy items is going to taste a bit different, or at least be less tempting to shop for and cook. It's probably idealistic or something to think that Korean culture won't be changed, I just wish it didn't have to be made so tempting the way Costco makes it. And, does it matter if the culture changes? As much as I enjoyed being able to buy some things (that weren't extravagantly priced), I felt kind of weird shopping at Costco in Korea, a place I came knowing things would be different and wanting to deal with it. I'm sure Koreans will always enjoy their traditional foods, though maybe not on the same level as before. So much fat to be consumed from Costco, hopefully there's enough kimchi to keep it from adding on. Going back a few sentences, maybe people just choose what they want without considering the cost too much, but it doesn't seem like that many people can afford to do that, especially with the economy having taken such a plunge recently.
Elizabeth and I eat lunch at school every day as it's brought in and served to the kindergarteners and the teachers are fed as well, given they sit in a classroom and supervise to make sure no 5-year-old food fights break-out. The main component is definitely the rice which the school makes with a small bean that gives the rice a dark purplish color. There is a different variety of 3-4 side dishes each day, many of them fish or octopus based and the others being cold vegetables in various forms and in various sauces. In restaurants as well, the dishes are mainly the same with seafood or dumplings being a special addition. Cheese is hardly used, though egg is popular in a fair number of things. Writing about all this food is making me hungry, we gotta get home and eat some left-over spaghetti! It's almost 10:00 already! Tomorrow we're celebrating Thanksgiving with the kindergarten kids and I've been made the "master of ceremonies" it seems, yay? I've been charged with giving a brief history of the holiday and then leading everyone in a prayer. Elizabeth and I were both in charge of coming up with two games, so we are going to play "find the turkey", which involves us hiding a little turkey (which Elizabeth so creatively made) and the kids going into the room and finding it! The other game is pin the feathers on the turkey, both totally original ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ilsan, Itaewon and Cosco

In the past few days Nolan and I left our little apartment and took a few trips on the subway to neighboring parts of Seoul.

Saturday we went for a walk around Ilsan. This destination was only 6 subway stops away, about 15 minutes. We went here one day with the previous english teachers; they took us to the Frog and Toad Pub for dinner. This time we wanted to see a bit more. There was a nice park, busier streets and a huge outdoor, three level mall-like development filled with koreans of all ages. The mall is called Western Dome and it was so filled with restaurants, palm reading fortune tellers, salons, an IMax movie theatre, shops and vendors that we could hardly walk at a normal pace. My head was going back and forth as if watching a floating tennis match. Plus there were so many lights and people, whom I ran into a few times while walking my tourist-like walk. While walking through this exciting and new mall, Nolan and I asked ourselves why we, meaning mall developers, don't build up instead of out. In a corner block area, Ilsan is able to contain about triple the number of stores than in the same amount of space in the states. True, they do have less space to begin with.
I walked through Western Dome and felt like a little kid in a candy store. Every new thing excited me. The yogurt store with swings as benches behind the tables, and mini escalators taking you to the next level of the movie theatre area. The free internet was a nice perk as well. Nolan and I walked back and forth mostly in order to pick out a restaurant for dinner. We decided on Thai food as a break from the normal Korean, and it was very delicious. mmmm.

Itaewon was our destination for Sunday. We wanted to try out a church we had found on google, so Sunday morning we headed in that direction. After 1 hour of transit we arrived in the central Seoul area. Immedietly we were almost shocked by the many western faces. I found myself being conflicted inside -I felt this obligation to say hi to my fellow westerners but at the same time realized that they didn't find it to be strange at all, so then I had to try not to look at them strangely. I hadn't realized that I hadn't seen another person that looked like me, besides my husband, in 2 weeks. Strange how it hasn't even been very long, yet the sight of a westerner made me think twice. At first there wasn't much time for reflection as we were in a rush to find the church as we were running late. After stopping at the wrong church we did find the one English service we were looking for, but to our surprise it wasn't only in english, but also in Korean AND CHINESE. This meant the American pastor spoke a sentence, then the korean man translated, and a chinese woman translated after that. It was hard to follow at first, but in the end we realized it gave us the extra time to find the page, and reflect. We met our first american couple at church...and they happen to be in their 60's, but they were the sweetest people! They gave us many tips for living in korea, and with them we were invited over to a korean woman's house for tea and fruit. It was wonderful to see our first korean "home" apartment. It was large, with heated wood floors, and the woman had a son who was an orthopedic surgeon who spoke English very well. We enjoyed a good afternoon there, and finished the evening with Quizno's, Coldstone icecream and teacher planning at a starbucks type cafe. On our way to the subway, leaving Itaewon there was this strange feeling, as if we had been in the US for the evening. At Quizno's we sat a booth away from two army guys and their korean girlfriends chatting away in English with american pop music playing in the background. It was so surreal and yet so normal feeling. Getting back in the subway we thought to ourselves that we were experiencing a slight case of culture shoc. We had spent the day on streets that were studded with Subway, Outback, Coldstone, Baskin Robbins, Quiznos, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, and other familiar places.
And strange enough we were excited to return to our more traditionally Korean home town of Wondong.
Until...of course monday night we ventured out to the nearby store of COSTCO only 4 stops away. In brief...overpriced American treats, cereals, and toaster ovens but we did leave with a very reasonable roasted chicken, a huge block of cheddar cheese, 4 hand towels, instant oatmeal for a month, milk, and hot chocolate mix for maybe half the year, filled backpacks, and a feeling of accomplishment!
For now, we must leave the school and its internet, so until next time!
Over and out

11/11 Pepero's Please

This is what the children were saying the most today on Pepero day. Every November 11th, aka 11-11 or chopsticks day children exchange these little sticks of cookie and chocolate that look quite like chopsticks. Its a commercial holiday much like our valentine's day where you give a friend this treat and they give you one. Today I ate maybe too many of these sweet chocolaty treats, but I think it was a better day for it :) Pepero's PLEASE!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Three days..oh my.

Elizabeth and I just finished our third full day of teaching, wow each day has been so long and at the same time has sort of flown by! We did planning last night until midnight at the school, then arrived this morning at 9am for our 10 am first classes...and again are probably going to be here until 11:30 or 12. That makes our first three days of work equaling around 35 hours. Of course that's including planning but we are PRAYING it will get easier, and we know it will. We have been asking other teachers to help us as the system isn't totally clear yet.
Here's the breakdown of classes if you were wondering how it works:
We teach four kindergarten classes starting at 10am, (though they're at different levels, so they use different books) which takes us to 12:30, then have lunch 'til 1:20, then one more kindergarten class. After that we have a half hour break until 2:30 when we start teaching the elementary school classes, which go straight until 7:10.
Today when we finished our last class, we filled in our day's program to show the director and then went to get some Korean BBQ for dinner and are now back at school about to start planning at 9:30!
The kindergarteners were extremely difficult to deal with as they have such high energy, don't understand a lot of what you say, and many of them just don't care much. I mean, it would probably be irrational/illogical/crazy of me to think that kindergarteners would be any different, but I somehow thought they would be perfectly behaved and subdued like the Korean boy I had in my group at camp this summer. Not so! Yes yes yes, it is our first few days so there is a ton to learn about them and what strategies might work. Despite numerous strategies that will be recommened to us, read about, and attempt to implement, dealing with their energy will require us to put forth great if not greater amounts of energy. In order to figure out ways to plan class lessons/activities/games in organized teacher mode for so many hours straight, Standing on our feet for that whole time is really tiring, but I'm sure we'll get used to it.

Sorry, we are not trying to complain....we absolutely know that this is just the difficulties that come with being in a new job in a new culture and system all of a sudden as a new married couple. We are really excited to be hear, but are partly dissapointed we can't have more time to explore and discover. We are definitely being stretched and are growing as we face the everyday difficulties that come with teaching at a k-5th school. For the most part there are many positive things...we have an apartment with heated floors(woohoo!), the teachers are very friendly and helpful, the food is good (save for the squid :) and we are not living in the middle of no where in a grass hut with nothing to eat. Times are good.
Just gaining perspective :)
Over and out from the teacher's room,
Nolan and Elizabeth

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Haunted Houses and HIKING!

What a whirlWIND of days we have spent in South Korea!
Lets start at the beginning.
We arrived at Incheon International Airport Monday night. Our flight was a whopping HOUR early, so we waited a bit for the director of the school to arrive. Director Ricky arrived with a warm smile and drove us first to our school, and then to our new home. It was around 9:30 at night and there were still students (math students) at Michigan English School, located close to Ilsan province in Wondang/ Goyang. Our school is in a four-story building containing everything from retail clothing stores on the first level, our school on the second, and on the third floor, a church and a bath house. Development space is quite limited and maybe they try to have one-stop-shop kind of buildings to make things more efficient. It's certainly is nice not having to walk as far for different things all the time. By the way South korea is about the same size as Indiana, and about 70 percent mountainous! There's a good reason for being efficient with space, eh? Makes sense to grow up rather than out when you compare all that is packed in here compared with the state of Indiana!
After our short intro to the school we hopped back in the car and were at our aparment within a couple minutes. The two female Canadian teachers who we are taking over for are not done yet, but moved into the director's apartment for the week so we could move into the apartment. We thought that was pretty nice as opposed to us having to live with someone else for the first week. Our apartment is on the third floor and has a nice size kitchen..which the previous teachers decorated in red and white and Christmas lights :) Then there are two bedrooms and a little bathroom. One bedroom has a nice size full/queen size bed and a small couch, tv, dvd, and window in it, while the other smaller bedroom fits a smaller bed and now our clothes. The only downside of our cute little place is the slight mold problem. It seems to be hiding (not really hiding though) in all the corners. We are right now researching toxic mold just in case! eeek! How do you get rid of it???
Other than that though, we are making it our own, as we slowly unpack and get situated.
Yes....this brings me to my next bit of information.....getting situated has taken more time than I originally thought as we are in school for REALLY long hours. We found out our first day at the school that our kindergarteners start at 10am and we will teach them until 1:30 and then elementary students until about 730pm everyday! A little different from what we thought...these kids are so devoted to SCHOOL! We observed classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then on Friday, HALLOWEEN, Nolan and I were in charge of a day long HAUNTED HOUSE where we proceded to scare little kids, making quite a few cry. I have never done that before...and felt sort of mean! :( We also participated in a Halloween parade, for which me, a black cat, and Nolan, a MUMMY, walked around town with adorable mini witches, princesses, power rangers, and spidermen while their mom's met us with candy galore! It was fun....though we were surprised at how many near child-deaths there almost were. Drivers here are insane and some adults would be telling traffic to stop while others waved it to move along, same deal with the kids. Nolan did a good job of using his height and strange mummy costume to stop traffic as he stood in the middle of the road after a few close-calls. Drivers go thru red lights at will, and motorcyclists do whatever they want.
Some interesting and fun things we have done include trying real Korean food....mmmmmm and spicy. We had a "goodbye" Korean BBQ dinner with the teachers for the departing English teachers, which was quite delicious. The meat KEPT coming for about 45 minutes and we didnt stop eating. Very intense. Then we went out to this place called a 'noraybong' (noray means sing, bong means room), so a personal karaoke kinda thing. We requested songs and sang to eachother until midnight. ha. It was really funny seeing some of the teachers get so into it! I sang some Queen, Nolan sang some was great.
Right now, as Nolan and I sit typing away, we are in an internet cafe aka PC PONG, and we just finished a 5 hour hiking trip to Pekan Mountain with one of the English Korean teachers, Nicki, and her husband Jin. We are soooo exhausted right now!
We hiked up to 4 different peaks, the highest was 724 km I believe. The weather and scenery were beautiful, a bit brisk, which helped as we were sweating due to the intensity. It was a really great hike, until we started back down and our feet and knees started wobbling. Once at the bottom they treated us to a feast of chicken stew with gimchi and then a sea food korean pancake. Lots of interesting and yummy tastes.
Now as I recount all of this I can feel myself drifting off...time to go for a nap and then prepare our classes. FIRST REAL DAY OF TEACHING IS TOMORROW! OH MY!
Over and out!
Nolan and Elizabeth

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ten hours 'til takeoff!

Look! We started a blog!
This is going to be fun writing down and sharing some of our experiences in South Korea with all of you!

It's almost 10 pm Saturday night and we have to leave for the airport by 5:30 in the morning.
Are we all set to go?
Well, we're sitting around the dinner table chatting with family while our clothes, various teaching aids, toiletries, etc are strewn about two bedrooms. How are all of our things going to fit into four, fifty pound bags, we're not sure, but we are confident that even without everything we think we need, we'll be fine.

The past few weeks since our return from beautiful sunny honeymoon Acapulco, Elizabeth and I have been trying our best to clean and pack up our rooms so they could be a bit better than during the time we were away at Olaf. It took a few weeks, but our rooms are finally clean and decluttered....and now onto the packing :)

......and after packing, off we'll go to the airport and fly first to San Francisco, and then after 13 hours of flying we will arrive in SEOUL where a korean from our school will meet us with a sign and take us to our future apartment! We are SO excited!!

Over and out, 3,5,7, 9er 9er