Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My personal washer and dryer

Just about every apartment in S Korea has a washing machine. Clothes are dried on racks like the one below. It is only an issue in very humid summer months. In the summer, it may take days to dry your clothes. 

                                                                       My new washer

and my new dryer...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bacon(?) and egg sandwich for breakfast

So, I had my heart set on cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast. I am still trying to get used to the Korean diet. Grocery shopping is expensive. Beef and chicken are so pricey that I would need to sell off some valuables to buy them on a regular basis. But pork is reasonable. So I bought a ten dollar container of bacon and a dozen eggs.

I poured the oil into the frying pan and put in the chopped onions. The smell was soooo good. My mouth starting watering early. Then I poured in the eggs and scrambled it around the frying pan. My stomach was talking to me, y'all. It was saying hurry up!! Feed me!! I took the finished eggs out of the pan and laid out my bacon strips, one by one, into the frying pan. My head was getting woozy from the anticipation. I almost had to sit down. 

Then...hmmmmn...the bacon was looking a little different..the fire was making it shrink but not the familiar shrinkage. I turned over the strips and watched them curl up in a fetal position. 

Why was my bacon sad?

Well, my mind was already made up. This was the most American meal that I have had since coming to this country and, like a bad relationship, I was determined to make it work. I turned off the fire and put the eggs and bacon between two slices of white bread. My teeth sank into the sandwich. My mouth chewed it gratefully. mind was trying to pose a question that my stomach was not prepared to answer. Why was my teeth and tongue finding hard little pieces of something? Why does my bacon have bones in it? Little small white pieces of bone.

Do you think that stopped me? HECK NAW!! I chewed my boned bacon and egg sandwich and every so often, spit out the little bones pieces. Was my bacon and egg sandwich good? HECK YEAH!! 
It made my stomach smile.

 What part of the oink oink is this? Does anyone know?

(UPDATE: Just found out this is pork belly. Yes, pork belly.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

What size are those feet?

Ok, so you may know by now that in South Korea, you take your shoes off when entering a building, school or private home. In my school, the students have storage space for their outside shoes and so do the teachers. Well, my co-teacher showed me where the teachers store their shoes during the day. shoes were too big for the cabinet. 
Had to place them sideways. 
Go ahead, laugh. I did.

Damn these big canoes!

Sending love to my 4 Valentines

Just wanted to send love,  hugs and kisses to my four valentines. Please know that I am thinking about you and praying for you to have God's blessings rain on you every day.

I miss and love you
every second of
every minute of
every hour of
every day of
every week of
every month of
every year of
every decade of
every score of
every century

hugs and kisses to you!!!


A-1 Deli incident

I was reading today  and read about a murder that happened at the deli on the same block as my old job. It happened at 3am this past Saturday morning.  I wanted to cry because a 25 year old man died, trying to defend a woman who was hit by a man, with a beer bottle. The specifics are not as important as the fact that the young man did not have to die. It was a senseless crime and should not have happened. It is hard to be in another country and have your country break your heart. The gun violence in the US is overwhelmingly sad and I hope one day we will realize that and find a real way to decrease, if not eliminate it.

I try to read and regularly in order to stay abreast of what is happening in my region and country. But sometimes it puts sadness in my heart. I feel just as helpless to change it here as I felt when I was on American soil. I thought when the babies were shot in school last year and the president cried as he read the announcement that things would change. (sigh)

I will pray for the young man's family as they deal with their loss. 

Bathrooms in school

Below are pics of the typical bathroom stalls in a public school. I learned that my aim is not good enough for baseball OR these toilets. Even if there is a line, I will wait for the more familiar toilet stall. The soap is typically used by all to wash our hands. All I have to say is that I will work on making my aim straighter.

Now I know how men feel, lol.

Can the church say "amen"?

I only understood one word.

I was happy to be in church again after missing it during orientation. My co-teacher introduced me to the Pastor and Bill, an American from Connecticut. Bill was the only non-Korean member and worshiped there with his Korean wife, Jeannie. Before the service, Bill and I chatted about the cultural differences and what food we missed from back home. As we walked into the already crowded sanctuary, I again felt like a tall, brown Martian. All eyes, from the choir to the congregation, were on us. Everything was in Hangul,the sermon, the Bible, the hymnal book, even the songs were in Korean.

Thankfully, Bill had an English bible and we were able to follow along after his wife directed us to Luke 13. We read the entire chapter slowly since we did not understand the sermon. Bill had suggested to me that the best way to worship, since I did not understand the language, was to catch American preachers online like he did. This would supplement my church attendance.

I did not recognize the words but I was familiar with the rhythm of any sermon and watched the pastor start off low key and end up speaking in a demanding voice. Seems like deliverying the word of God has a universal rhythm to it.

After reading an entire chapter of Luke, I busied myself by looking around and sneaking pictures with my Ipod. My brother wanted me to tape a small section of the sermon but I could not do it without drawing even more attention to myself.

During announcements, the Pastor asked all visitors to stand up. He called me by name and, blushing, I stood up, smiled and bowed twice. 

After church, many people greeted me and a little girl even gave me a rice cake as a gift. I would definitely visit the church again. Even though I only understood one word, I know that God saw my heart. He knows that I am doing my best right now. And that's all anyone can ask for. 
Can the church say "amen"?

First day of school..

I won't lie.

My first day of school was very intimidating. I had 4 classes of 5th graders. They were energetic and delighted to meet me. 

That's not what scared me. 

The school has hundreds of children and they were all shocked and amazed to see someone who looked like me. 

That's not what scared me.

I have to greet and bow to the principal every morning, in his office,  before I start work. This is done out of respect for his high position.

That's not what scared me.

What scared me was the 1st and 2nd graders. During my breaktime, I sat in the library. They crowded me like bees to a beehive. I made the mistake of sitting down and was eye-level with them. They patted me, crowded me and touched me all over. I was like a cute puppy. They were delighted to see me and greeted me repeatedly with "hello". That's not what intimidated me. 

What scared the HELL OUT OF ME was the constant, wet coughing done directly into my mouth and nose. I could almost see their baby germs flying out of their little mouths and landing on mine. 

You see, Koreans do NOT take sick days. It is almost a crime to take a sick day. As the baby germs were flying into my mouth, I pictured myself with a 115 degree fever, draped in a blanket, nose running, facing a class full of kids eager to learn English grammar. I wondered if it was too late to go knocking on the doors of corporate America, begging to be let back in. Please let me back in. I wanted to run out and buy a gallon of alcohol and pour it all over my body. I wanted to wrap myself in an anti-bacterial shrink wrap and just leave my eyes and feet open to navigate the halls of the school.
Can I really do this? Not teach, I know I have a natural ability to impart knowledge into others.

The real question is- Can I stay healthy enough to come in five days a week, for twelve months, and not drop dead from some itsy-bitsy baby germs?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Moving on a DELUXE apartment in the sky-hi-hi

My new neighborhood. This country is literally carved between and in mountains. Wow.

My 3rd floor studio apt is very nice. Below are pics from the neighborhood. The building is on a main street. There are lots of different stores and restaurants to explore.
It will be easy to keep up my walking regiment. The weather is warm. All I gotta do is get off my butt and JUST DO IT!!

my apt building and neighborhood

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pork spine soup

Last night was the "Newbie" dinner at Haejunguk Place. Birdie, a 2 year teacher here, organized a dinner so the experienced and new teachers could get to know each other. It was great to meet everyone in the Gwangyang area. Afterwards we walked to the local park and hung out. Then it was to Springer, a local ex-pat bar. Honestly I was sleepy after about 30 minutes but wanted to show my face at the dinner.  

I had pork spine soup for the first time!! Don't hate, it was delicious!! 
Sorry about the bone pic, I was hungry, lol! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My new apartment- pink lace and butterflies

My new apartment is a very nice 3rd floor studio. We are all given a tv, microwave, fridge, bed, washing machine and stovetop. The former teacher sold me a bunch of stuff, thank God. It will save me lots of time and money. I only have to buy bedspread and an iron. The first thing I did once my co-teacher dropped me off, for the last time, last night, was to put my hands up in the air and thank God for his goodness and mercy.

Check out the pink lace and butterfly wallpaper, ya'll!!!  The curtains look and feel like lingerie. Mmmmm, Victoria's secret. Lots of closet space and hardwood floors make this studio worth keeping.

I'll take it!!!!

No keys needed. Entrance codes are used in most apartments.

The bathroom- you are not suppose to flush toilet paper in Korea so you do not clog up the pipes. You are mandated to put all used toilet paper in a wastebasket, yes, you heard me. In private home and public places, everywhere.  The bathroom also doubles as a shower stall, so there is drainage in the middle of the bathroom floor to drain the water as you shower. It makes for lots of humidity. You can steam wrinkles out of your clothes easily as you shower.

Window view
"Just looking out of the window...watching the asphalt grow..thinking how it all looks hand-me-down..."

To save space, there are a lot of high rise buildings.