Friday, December 24, 2010

I have some amazing kids...

I have been getting a few Christmas cards this week. All of them are sweet in their own way but this one i got today...really rocked my world.
As a teacher here in Korea I sometimes feel as though I'm just here to play the part. It doesn't matter if they understand as long as I look like I'm having a good time and the students LOOK like they are learning.
Until I got this card. If I had known what it would say I would have wrapped this girl up in a hug and wished her a more sincere "Merry Christmas".
She is a 3rd year student which means next week is the last time I will see her. She made the card last night at Church.
I will post a picture later but here is what it said:

To: Amanda
How do you feel now? I feel very happy now. After you have taught me, something to me was changed. In fact, I lived very hard time.
A lot of stress and parent's indifference made me crazy! But, though the situation is not change I will do my best to be happy. I think it will be hard for my parents to have more concern to me, cause they are very busy. ㅠㅠ
I found my own after I met you.
I found my bright side thanks to you.
So, I feel very thankful.
That's why I want to give you a Christmas card!!

Merry Christmas!



She ended it with a little * saying she is not good at writing and if there is wrong expression to understand her, please.


ON the back of the card she wrote "I will never forget you!!"

It took everything in me not to start crying at my desk. I have not felt this way in a long time. It only took a Christmas card and I want to bring her into my protective circle and do everything in my power to make her happy. To give her the attention she deserves.

She just rocked my world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This end DOES NOT justify the means

I found out from my friend Sara how South Korea has decided to deal with Hoof and Mouth Disease. All of the cows in my province are being slaughtered. The meat will not be used for food. In fact they don't even plan on killing them quickly. Nope. That'd take too much man power.
Instead they are going to dig a giant hole and throw them in. If they don't die from the fall or being smashed by their fellow cage mates they will be buried. Alive. Apparently the first 500 died this way yesterday.

I'm not a vegetarian. I like meat. I do NOT like the senseless killing of any innocent lives. I can't even kill bugs because I can't help but tell myself they have a purpose on this earth just like i do. Mine is more important...but that doesn't matter. I can't kill without cause. A mosquito--it will bite me. I still feel a little bad about it...sometimes.


This brings me back to Shakespeare's "Macbeth"


A scene where Macbeth is expressing guilt over killing his King--who was like a father to him.
Macbeth:
Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep," the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast—

Lady Macbeth:
What do you mean?

Macbeth:
Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house:
"Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more."


and another later on, same act (act 2 scene 2) that I think anyone who has senselessly killed any animal should feel 


How is't with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.




Basically he feels as though his hands will be forever stained red and that an entire ocean could never wash his hands clean of blood. Should he try the green ocean would turn red with the blood of his sin.




I fail to see the justification for this. I need a reason to accept this as a logical mood. Economically it is a good move because it will save on vaccination costs and labor for the farmers who have to seek out the infected and separate them from the herd.

It isn't even humane to the cows and pigs to end their lives this way rather than sending them to the slaughter. Hoof and mouth disease is a terrible disease for the animal. They wind up not being able to eat or stand by the end. However, I think slaughter is almost a better way to go than to be buried and slowly suffocate.

I can imagine the helpless cries of these abused animals as they are herded into holes, crashing into the cold hard ground, and struggling for a foothold before another lands on top. Then the crushing weight of the dirt as it piles high and darkness pervades the air.

I think I need to check out for a while. People don't understand me and my reaction to animals and I really don't have the energy to try to explain or justify my feelings.

This end DOES NOT justify the means.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas :D

SO after another class singing Christmas Carols and filling in the 12 Days of Christmas I have a few more gems to share! :D

From So hee:
1. Christmas tree which is made by me
2. Snowmans that were made by my family
3. Dogs barking silently
4. Smart phones for my family
5. Chickens for me and cousins
6. Shoes
7. Lucky Spirits for Me
8. Favorite Foods
9. Aladdin's Lamps
10. Idol Singers
11. Santas
12. Clothes for me

from 송다정(Song Dah Cheong)
1. Bright star on the tree
2. Fairy Tales Books
3. Pretty Necklace
4. Cute Cats
5. Golden Bells
6. Concert Tickets
7. Signed CD
8. Big Teddy Bears
9. New Clothes
10. New Sneakers
11. Times for play computer
12. Times for sleep.

And finally from 유지유 (You Gee You)
1. Apartment in Seoul
2. Computer
3. Dog like Gaho
4. Banana Milk
5. Big Bang Members (this is a boy band in Korea <3)
6. Airplane ticket to Eruope
7. Candy
8. Bread
9. MP3
10. Vacation
11. BIG Bang's new song
12. BIG BANG's concert ticket

Still can't beat the first one with exploding schools and screaming teachers :D

Monday, December 20, 2010

South Korea: Filling in the blanks


Keumsan Temple
“I have a fill in the blank future and I hold the pen.” My friend wrote this on a blog recently and it has been really running through my mind. Maybe that is why I chose to go to Korea? Maybe that’s why I’ve made most of my decisions in my life. My future is tabula rasa in the sense that it is indeed a blank slate, or a fill in the blank, while at the same it time reflects my past decisions. While sitting at my desk I often have one of those moments where I pull away and have a look around and think, “Wow…I’m in South Korea. Was this a good decision?”            
I’ve had plenty of these moments in my life like when I was choosing which university to attend, what to study, and where to work. However, I think they’ve started to happen more frequently since I finished the application process through EPIK. It seemed to take forever until suddenly my papers were in the mail and I had to sit back and think, “I’m applying to teach English in South Korea. Why?” I had an amazing job at a zoo and I was getting closer to my dream job, to be a zookeeper. I was 24 years old and I was living on my own. After finally establishing myself and getting my own place, I wanted to give it all up so I could travel half way around the world and teach English. I have a bachelor degree in biology for goodness sakes! My friend, who had been talking about the program ever since she started the year before, painted a pretty picture for me. But I was realistic enough to know that there were a lot of pros and cons to this decision. In the end, one of my main reasons for choosing to move to South Korea was that I wasn’t ready to settle. 24 is just too young for me to be settled down into a career and start working on the rest of my life. I am too restless for this and I yearned for adventure. I wanted to travel, and a job at the zoo does not leave a lot of room or money for such ambitions.
So the application was sent and, faster than I thought imaginable, I was on a plane to South Korea. A 24 year old girl from Michigan who’d only been to Central America, and that for a study of natural ecosystems through college, was now headed to The Land of the Morning Calm. I did not feel calm despite arriving in the early morning. I had literally bought my ticket the Saturday before my Monday departure, leaving absolutely no time for a crash course in the language. With only Spanish as my second language I hopped off the plane and blindly followed the crowd, while at the same time trying not to look as lost as I felt. Starting to feel like a small fish in the Pacific Ocean, that is a relatively large and foreign body of water at the same time surrounded by a lot of knowledgeable sharks, I quickly ducked into the closest women’s restroom to splash cold water on my face. Knowing I had small amount of time before I’d lose the crowd, I gave myself a quick pep talk and walked back out. Everyone I saw was Korean, spoke Korean, and everything was written in Korean. I felt like the speck of white in a sea of black and tan; very foreign, and scared that other people might notice that I didn’t belong. Incidentally, I thought back on a song I’d heard my previous boss sing when teaching at the zoo:
“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others things
Before I finish my song?
Despite the choking fear I started to giggle and immediately felt like I could take on the world. So what if I wasn’t the same? That didn’t mean I did not belong! After walking around for a while I spotted other people who were “not like the others” and followed. I had made it. I was in South Korea, in the right place, and was finally waiting for the bus to pick us up to take us to our orientation site.
Caitlin, Me, and Summer at Keumsan Temple
             Fast forward through orientation: classes to prepare us for teaching English as a second language, a crash course introduction to the Korean Language, and a bus ride to the cities where we’d begin our new lives. Goodbye to the new friends we made during orientation and “Anyeonghaseyo” to our future coworkers. Filled with promises and strange rumors about the customs (do they really eat live octopus) of the native people, I don’t think there was a person on the bus that wasn’t nervous about our first meet and greet with our co teachers. We were told during orientation that they would be our new best friends. They would be our introduction and safety net to catch us when we hit one of the many cultural brick walls in this new land; basically our lives hung by a thread and they held the scissors just like the Sisters of Fate in Greek Mythology. Yes, we were nervous.
             Looking back I can only laugh at that visual image. Sweaty palms, breathless, and my mind filled to the brim with useless knowledge I’d picked up from other people who’d heard from someone else what it was like here in Korea. It seems almost natural to be here right now sitting at my desk and writing this paper. Nervousness has flown out the window and I am once again settled in at my job. My first couple of classes I felt went horribly because I was nervous and really didn’t know how to best communicate with my new students, but I also learned that it happens to everyone. The worst thing I could do is let it affect my day and refuse to improve the lesson.
Teacher picture at Busan Aquarium
             My co teachers have been everything I was promised and more! I have five, and they are the first to notice if I’m not feeling well and to comment if I look tired. My Principal and Vice Principal speak English, for the most part, and that makes my life here so much easier. Notice how I said “easier” and not “easy”. No, as I’ve learned in the past, life is by no means easy, but I’ve been blessed with people who’ve made it a little bit easier to handle. For example, there is this whole lie about Koreans being subtle. I don’t know about other places, but I’ve been told by my co teachers that my lesson was boring and that the students are not interested. When I had planned on ending the class with a song I was asked the relevance of it to the lesson and Lord help me if there wasn’t any. However my co teachers have made the stress of teaching an easier burden to bear. I can go to them with questions and ideas about what they feel the students would like. If a lesson didn’t go well we’d put our heads together and try to figure out where we went wrong and how we can improve. They laugh with me when I make a mistake and praise give praise when the lesson is amazing. With the watchful eyes of the co teachers the students rarely act up and it is great having that support system in the classroom
The support doesn’t end there. What amazes me is the continual support I have from the people I met at orientation. Honestly, I didn’t think we’d be in contact after we were transported to our different cities. In my orientation class, we were actually split into different provinces so meeting up is even more difficult for us than for others. Yet we still manage to keep the support system up, and all of us are willing to share stories about great lesson plans (and even complain about the bad ones). Not one of us has something that we wouldn’t change but I can guarantee all of us have parts of our job that we absolutely love. Sometimes it’s that one student in the worst class that keeps smiling at you, despite your absolute failure at getting the point across.
                          Since arriving in my city of Andong, I have been pushed to the limits of my patience, understanding, and even compassion for other human beings. There are days where I just want to sit at home and rage at the differences between our cultures and feel justified in my anger. However, this only lasts until I realize that not only am I a native speaker, but I’m a guest English speaker in this country. A guest does not rage at the host’s inability to make things exactly to their specifications and how they’d like for everything to be. I’ve had to learn how to find delight in the differences that I enjoy and humor in the ones I do not. Sometimes a simple shake of a head and a smile works wonders to improve my attitude towards something very strange and sometimes "backward’ to me.
             My students have been teaching me a lot about Korea, while I am at the same time I am teaching them about American culture. They’ve taught me they are all hard workers and really do want to do well in everything they do. For instance, I am proud to say that I let my emotions show when I am angry, happy, upset, or confused with the behavior of the students. I do let students know when I will not accept their bad behavior. Sadly, in Korea, you do not do this. It's ok, though. I found another way to make my students behave. I stare at them. I stare at them and smile. I smile so large and so sweetly I think it unnerves them. It helps that I don't say anything while I'm smiling at them. It hasn't failed me yet. Who knew silence was the best way to gain the attention of 35 noisy teenage girls?
EPIK trip to Keumsan Temple
             I’ve learned more than just discipline. I’ve learned to laugh while I make a complete fool of myself in order to help the students understand my meaning. In the end, does it matter how I look if the student remembers me hopping around on one foot shouting, “Are you alright?!” If they remember that during the English test and it helps them answer the question then it doesn’t. My friends tell me stories of how they literally trip and fall down in front of all of their students, just so they can teach them the word “embarrassed”. We are a dedicated group of native speakers who at the end of the want to brag to others about how amazing our students are that they remembered last weeks lesson and I am proud to say that mine are some of the best.
             I’ve heard a million times that students are at various levels, and it is true. I have 2nd year students in my middle school that I can literally sit down and have “girl talk” with about boyfriends, or even what they want to study when they go to University. I have 1st year students who show no fear when getting in front of class, and will perform a melodrama about finding a boyfriend, kissing him, getting an upset stomach, and needing to go to the doctor (that was an amazing class that I will never forget!). Then I have students who only say “hello” to me and can’t get over the giggle-fits when I respond in kind. However, to get anything else from them is like pulling teeth. The students knowledgeable in English answer me before the other students get the chance to even process the question. I’ve had to adapt to this language barrier and different levels of comprehension by keeping them on their toes. If there is a competition, I make sure that even the students who are poor at English have a fighting chance at winning some sort of prize for art or creativity. I incorporate pop music in some of my lessons so all students are at least practicing English in a very fun and safe environment.
Outside of school and the many lessons I teach, I sometimes find myself struggling to combine my American ways with the more traditional ways of the Korean culture. When I do, it often results in a mess that really isn’t helpful until I can pick it apart and find some strange lesson in the end. Relationships between friends, co workers, my boss, and even the opposite sex can get all muddled and confusing that it makes me want to just throw my hands up in the air and distance myself from them as much as possible. However, that is impossible since personal space is a ‘foreign’ concept to a lot of Koreans. I’ve learned that I am not Korean and that means I will be treated differently than if I were a Korean woman. Men can be sweet and kind but if you answer “solo” to the question “are you single?” so I am now prepared for being asked for a phone number, to go out for soju, or maybe be introduced to their son. I’ve learned to take this all in stride with a few trial and errors. The same simple shake of the head and sweet smile helps with would-be suitors when I am gently telling them “anio” (no).
Despite the difference in culture there is one thing I had no trouble soaking in: the scenery. The mountains, beautiful trees, and fresh air sing to my biologist soul like nothing I have ever experienced before. And nestled in the mountains are traditional temples and villages that make me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. Despite my heart belonging to the sciences I have a passion for history and South Korea is full to bursting with rich history. I’ve visited the history museum in Seoul, walked the halls of Gyeongbokgung Palace, sat in the waiting room to the bed chamber of an ancient king, traveled to the Keumsan Temple and watched as Buddhist monks prayed to their golden statues, and even been shown the oldest standing pagoda in South Korea.
Minyong Kim and me atGyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
The blanks in my future as starting to fill in, and I am happy I hold the pen to writing it. What an amazing future I have, surrounded by this wonderfully strange, unique, beautiful, and culturally rich land. Not only do I look forward to my future, I am also looking forward to telling my story. That is why I am here in South Korea. I will continue to add to my wonderful story and keep others interested in it. I’d advise everyone to do the same thing. To push themselves. Engage in conversations and (safe) situations they’d never think to find themselves in. In the beginning of this essay I asked a very good question; if this was a good decision for me. Looking back I wouldn’t trade a moment I’ve had in Korea for anything in the world, and I am looking forward to the next 8 months.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 days of Christmas

SO this week is an easy week for me. My 1 and 2 grade students (the first and second years in middle school) are testing and that leaves me to entertain the 3 years.

Maybe i haven't explained this very well so let me take a little bunny trail so I don't lose you when I mention this again.

I teach at an all girls middle school and middle schools in Korea are three years long, much like the states. So, when I mention 1, 2, and 3 years that's what I'm talking about. 1st years are amazing, they are so excited to be in middle school and they want to please you. Really, they do. 3rd years are at that stage where they can either be too cool for school or feel like they need to set the standard for the 2nd years so they pay attention and act very mature...kind of weird. 2nd years could really care less one way or the other. Not all of them but a good number of girls here are all about themselves and I really can't wait until they are 3rd years. I"m also praying that my lovely 1st years don't turn into the current 2nd years.

OK...back on path...12 days of Christmas and an easy week for the 3rd years.

Ever since my 3rd years finished their finals it has been difficult finding lessons that they would think are interesting. I've tried shoes, natural disasters, appearance....finally with the Holiday around the corner I was inspired to do the 12 days of Christmas.
My plan: To have them listen and sing the 12 days of Christmas
After they have all embarassed themselves and enjoyed the easy bit of singing a rather repetitive song I then go over it AGAIN but this time with a fill in the blank sheet.
OK...hard work is done and now it is time for the application...

Their goal now is to form teams and create their OWN 12 days of christmas song. At first I was a little nervous. My first class didn't do so hot but I wasn't going to back down. I wanted this to work. SO, I came up with my own and gave examples in class.

I asked if they liked music. If so, what band, and I told them they could put those members on their christmas list. I mentioned food, travel, jewelry, etc.

These are two of my best responses :D

1. A Bong Won love me (강 동 윈 is his name and apparently he is a famous Korean Actor and I THINK this is his picture...)
2. Two monsters uprising
3. Three cakes flying
4. Four princess turns prince
5. Five Chanel Earings
6. Six ladies having plastic surgery
7. Seven teachers screaming
8. Eight pigs grunting
9. Nine students run away
10. Ten schools destroyed
11. Eleven men proposed
12. Twelve chickens dancing

twisted, yes?

another

1. delicious apple
2. girls singing
3. ducks swimming
4. silver ring
5. blue eyed boys
6. warm cocoa
7. shining stars
8. nice presents
9. christmas trees
10. cute boots
11. small cakes
12. happy peoples

these girls are in the same class... xD And she calls herself Venus.


Awesome :D

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

You can't escape it

Hiya!

So one of the perks about coming to Korea is the fact that I thought I was leaving behind all the crazy old guys that liked to hit on me in public places.
Well that perk has officially flown out the window. Apparently my charm and beauty (ha!) transcends cultural and language barriers as well. Damn.

The culprits? Taxi Drivers.

I get in the taxi and the first thing they do is smile WIDE and say, "Whare are you flom?" "America"

This gets them excited! They then let out a string of compliments in garbled english/korean and then drop the bomb, "You have boyfriend?"
Should I lie? I should...but I can't. Obviously they are too old for me, right? Apparently not because soon after they are inviting me out to drink soju (alcohol) and asking for my phone number.

Oy ve.

I had one taxi driver try to hold my hand when giving my change back, when that didn't work he tried to prolong the eyecontact and once again asked for my phone number. REALLY?

I guess it can't be as bad as being asked to smell my hair...Can anything really top that?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Politics

Good Morning America!!

Well is it? More like a crazy bunch of craziness over here in the south. Before any of you get worried about what is happening--don't. I'm still at school the next day and everyone seems to be fine. No one is running around or building bomb shelters.

So, what happened? Let me paint you a picture of how I came to find out about the biggest attack on South Korea since 1954.

I was home sick with Laryngitus and a cold flipping through the channels trying to find ANYTHING in English. I was to that point where I didn't want to interpret anything by reading body language and just wanted to lay there and vegge. Doing so I was pretty surprised to see smoke and a city skyline on five channels. Curious despite my sickness I finally picked a channel and watched. I debated for about 5 minutes if I should get off my sick butt and walk the five feet to my computer so I could find out what was going on. I did. I'm glad I did!

Apparently North Korea fired upon the South on an island called Yeonpyeong. No worries mom, it's far far far from me. 
I hope that helps a little :)
So North Korea is saying that South Korea fired first and South Korea is saying that North Korea fired first. The point of the matter is...shots were fired on both sides and now everyone is upset. 2 South Korean military were killed and I think the total is 17 are injured including some civilians. I think that Lee and Pyongyang need to just sit down and talk about their differences until this problem can be resolved. Really, gentelmen, do we have to go back to the 50's and start this all over again? Really? 

Even Obama was mad! "Condemnation of the North came swiftly from foreign capitals. President Obama was "outraged," an aide said, saying the Pyongyang government was "an ongoing threat that needs to be dealt with." The White House called on Pyongyang to end "its belligerent action.""

Here is the link to that site LA Times BBC News
Just in case you think I'm a newbie at this I have other news sites as well to back up what I'm saying. 

South Korea says they were doing routine military drills aimed to the WEST of the island when suddenly North Korea dropped 100 shells on them. South Korea, of course, retaliated with 80. Way to go South Korea. Sending the message along in a very economical way. 

N.K: We hate you. FIRE FIRE FIRE!! x100!!
S.K: You fire upon us?! HA! We fire upon you too! But we will not be flashy with our trillion dollar economy. FIRE FIRE FIRE x80

I think in some sort of way we can see this as a great politcal and economical move. Not only did S Korea save money on military but they also look more stable and even conservative. S Korea could have ripped the North a new one but instead  chose the classy route, the higher road if I may say, and only fired what was deemed necessary. Woot.

What i really really dislike about this is that the Won, Korean currency, has lost its value. I lost $0.14 to the dollar because of this. BOO on you, North Korea. :(

Thursday, November 11, 2010

OK almost one month later

SORRY! I know it has been a while but really I have been so busy that I haven't had time to really update anyone.
Since my last post I have celebrated my birthday and reverted back to my single stage. Oh sigh, fast month!

My birthday was amazing. I got a couple of cakes! One from school which was super sweet.


This is the cake I got from my teachers ^^  YUMMY!! 




 
I am cutting my first cake! My principal is to my left and one of my 1st year students Seong Yee (the girl who drew a picture of me for my birthday) was there to try to put frosting on my nose. xD


Here my teachers are digging into my cake!! They are awesome and I'm happy there was enough for everyone.


This was Friday and my birthday was on Saturday. So on SATURDAY my friend called me up and asked what I wanted to do. I suggested lunch and her boyfriend said, "Daegu?" Daegu is one hour away and a pretty large city. I thought he was joking but apparently not since they both were at my house in a few minutes and we were headed off to Daegu!! Crazy!
We went to a Western restaurant called "The Holy Grill" YUM! I'm told it was started by a couple of Canadians and they serve yummy food from home. They even have cranberry juice!!


Poor Heelak was exhausted though because he and Sara had celebrated someone else's birthday the night before.

So we let him sleep and talked with Sara who was wide awake despite keeping the same hours as him.

After that we headed back to Andong and celebrated the day of my birth in another country with...JIMDAK. OH my...words cannot describe the beauty of this food. Just think yummy noodles and chicken with spice and multiply it by 1000000000 and you might come close.
Anyways, so we had that for dinner. My boyfriend (at the time) had arrived on Friday to celebrate my birthday and we had Jimdak for dinner that night too. He left Saturday morning for an interview or something...not important. What IS important is that I got to have Jimdak two days in a row.

Awesome

OK so after that we go out for drinks!





and cake of course :D




SO CUTE
Baskin Robins Icecream cake which was of course eaten quickly (because it would melt >.>)


It was an awesome birthday.
I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details about the break up that happened this past weekend. Not worth it, really. I'll miss him but I think it was a good decision in the long run. I think a long distant relationship is a little difficult anyways.

I have also applied to be the regional coordinator so wish me luck. That would mean I'd be the go-to person for the EPIK peeps in my province. 
Tee hee.










Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teaching in Korea = Learning in Korea

Ever wonder how life seems to flash by you without giving you proper warning. How in the world is it the 13th of October already?!

Classes have been amazing and they have also been a little close to my own personal Hell. However, I have now gained a new appreciation for all my teachers back home. If I ever see you again, please be prepared for a hug, a letter, or some form of gratitude that is appropriate for our relationship.

These students have been teaching me a lot about Korea while I am at the same time teaching them about American culture. For instance, I am proud that I let my emotions show. Granted, I don't flip out on them but I do let them know when I will not accept their bad behavior. Sadly, in Korea, you do not do this. No, in fact, I was informed that I should keep smiling and not show that I am angry with them.

Whaaaaaat?

Yeah, I was told this. It's ok, though. I found another way to make my students behave. I stare at them. I stare at them and smile. I smile so large and so sweetly I think it unnerves them. It helps that I don't say anything while I'm smiling at them. Ahahaahaha...it hasn't failed me yet. Who knew silence was the best way to gain the attention of 35 noisy teenage girls?!

Now don't get me wrong, I have had more amazing days than bad days. In fact, today, I got a drawing from a student of mine. It is of me and it says "I Like Amenda". ㅋㅋ SO CUTE!!

I will take a picture and show you!!





Culture...what an amazing culture!! Let's talk about the boys, yes?

They are amazing. I can't describe it better than that. They are AMAZING. Why? Because you know that gentleman we've been searching for so long for in America? You know where they went? Korea. I swear it. Where they are few and far between back home they are EVERYWHERE here in Korea. Now, again, don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are the normal perverts and jerks here but I haven't met them yet. You know me. I'm a magnet for these kinds of people.
They open doors for you. They hold your purse. They feed you...or make sure you're eating. They worry about you when you're sick. They worry about you when you're hurt. They walk beside you (on the side of traffic). They make sure you have the best seat. They hold your hand in public. They respect you and your thoughts. They respect personal space and if you're not single...they won't even TOUCH you. They are even a little uncomfortable TALKING to a girl who is not single because they don't want to insult her boyfriend or even insinuate that there is any kind of relationship outside of friendship between you.
And no, I'm not just talking about my guy :D. My friends and the teachers I work with all say the same thing. My male teachers are nothing but respectful. The men I've met at BARS have been nothing but respectful.

Single Ladies...come to Korea.


Ahem, now to move on about cultural things...

Life isn't always cake. Culture clashes and whatnot are sometimes difficult to overcome. While I am used to making my own choices it is difficult to do this when you have NO idea how to take care of yourself.

Example 1: I was sick and had no idea how to buy medicine or even what it was called. I ended up having to go to the hospital. Don't be afraid! EVERYONE goes to the hospital. There aren't any doctor offices. Seriously. It's kind of weird...but the service is good and cheap :D very cheap. I had listen to (at the time) friend nag me until I caved and went to the doctor. I had to rely on my co teacher to explain what was wrong and then listen to her instructions on how to get better. Man, I felt like a child again.

Example 2: I was drinking. We were all drinking. I was trying to help my boyfriend find a cab for my friend when someone rolled down their window. I walked up to the car, didn't get too close, and said hello in Korean. They rolled up the window. Ooookaaay.. Then they rolled it back down. Thinking they were just being shy I laughed and said hello again, waving and smiling.
This did -not- make the boyfriend happy. We had a sit down conversation about it. Culture clash (and maybe new relationship clash?) Korean men do not like it when you smile and talk to other Korean men. Whoops.
Also, they go to the hostpital for EVERYTHING. No doctor's office...hospital.
You give gifts when something good happens to you. So, for my birthday I will bring cake to the office :D YAY! At least this way I know I'll get cake on Friday!

You bow to your elders first...not the other way around. If you don't then you're considered rude.

Try everything. I have already told my teachers and principals that I don't eat raw fish, squid, or octopus. Basically if it's chewey...I am not a fan!

Ok...so that's long enough. I will update you all on the mask festival laters ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Traveling in a Foreign Country

So last time I updated I was settling in Andong, right? I think so. If not…well I am settled in Andong right now. For those of you who have no idea where that is I will provide a map and possibly show you where it is in relation to two of the major cities in South Korea.
Seoul is upper left and Busan (Pusan) is lower right. Andong is in the middle =D



I have officially been here for one month as of September 18, almost 10 days ago. WOW!!! I have already had so many different foods, met so many people, and trekked across so much land since then. I probably know a few more key words and phrases so I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well here.

There are a few things I need to update you on!! MY TRAVELS! I will break it down by location :D



Seoul:

Seoul is the capital of South Korea. HUGE city. HUUUUUUUUUGE city. Thank God I made a friend, Min, during orientation and she was able to meet me at the subway station. The problem is that I’ve never in my life ridden a subway and I had taken a bus to get there. Picture this, will you? A nervous blonde with a phone attached to her ear speaking in broken English wandering the streets. Picture that everyone and their mother has black hair and brown eyes….does said blonde stick out? YES! Does it make matters worse that this is the weekend before a very important holiday so everyone is rushing rushing rushing and getting irritated at the wandering foreigner? Yes! Did said blonde care? NO! Tee hee.

So I did find the subway station only because I have this strange sense of direction here in Korea. I haven’t gotten lost yet and I hope to keep my record clean! Now all I had to do was find my friend. Again, everyone has black hair and all are around the same height. I also hadn’t seen my friend in two weeks and since then have met a lot of people. SO now I start to worry if I’ll even recognize her! Thankfully I rarely forget a face and she’s so pretty that she’d stick out anywhere. We meet and then the next worry comes along…do I hug her? Koreans aren’t much for PDA….for the most part. I mean there are exceptions to the rule that I haven’t quite figured out but probably will one day. So I am walking towards her and right before I extend a hand in some formal greeting that would feel totally ridiculous I instead open my arms wide and wrap her in a good ol’ American hug. :D She loved it! YAY!!

We then met up with some other friends, Cheol and Sean, at a café where we all put our heads together to form a plan of action. I had gotten to Seoul with no idea what I wanted to see. Apparently this is a problem? So after much debate (not really) we decided to go and see a palace. One of the largest palaces in Korea since for past 600 or 700 years it was the ruling city of the kingdom. I commented on the fact that my country hasn’t even been a country for that long and they all laughed over it.

What can I say about the Palace? It was beautiful. In the throne room there is a beautiful painting on the ceiling with dragons and other swirling objects. Over the throne itself there is a sun and a moon and the colors architecture was delightfully Korean with some Chinese influence (as I was told). So as we are all staring at this beautiful room I turned to Min and asked, “Have you seen the movie Kung fu Panda?” She nods and looks a little confused. I then point to the ceiling and no joke, it’s straight from the movie. Or, I should say, the movie took the design and used it for their film. Min started laughing so loud she had walk away and of course explain to the others what I had said. Word got around and soon everyone was saying “Kung fu Panda” and pointing at the ceiling. Yeeaaaaaaah.




Then we went to the Korean Folk Museum but it was closing in 20 minutes so Cheol and I ran through it. We had dinner, food is a favorite Korean past time, and moved on to their next favorite past time: Drinking. This is where we got the fun idea to stay up all night until our buses left in the morning, at 9am. GREAT. Had a wonderful wonderful time but I think I’ll keep those details to myself ;)



Transition

I’ve had the past week off from classes due to the Korean Holiday Chuseok. It’s like our American Thanksgiving! Because it was on a Wednesday this year I had Tuesday through Friday off last week. Sounds great, right? Going to get a lot done during that week, right? NO! Why? Because I’m poor, that’s why! But not anymore so don’t worry. I stayed close to home since I spent most of my money going to Seoul the weekend before.



Busan

Busan is a coastal city, one that I had already visited with my school for a Picnic. IT is about three hours away on the bus but four hours away via train. My friend Jasmine wanted to get out of Andong so she spotted me the cash to purchase a ticket so I could go with her. It is a beautiful city and we walked most of it (at least it felt like it). We went to an underground shopping center in search for shoes. We were girls on a mission since apparently 250 is the largest size Korea has. My friend is a 280. Good news though, I found out I’m a 250 so I can get shoes in Andong! WOOT. Ahem, anyways…so we were on a mission to find shoes. We went EVERYWHERE. There is this huge department store that has all these foreign name brands from London, Greece, Germany, etc. But with it being name brands everything was so expensive. GAP was expensive. GAP!! Horrible. Simply horrible. SO I did not get a lot of shopping done. I did, however, get some socks and perfume so now I smell pretty and have cute feet! YAY!

Before all of this we had to find lodging. All around that area are places called LOVE motels. Basically they are places where you can rent by the hour…hint hint. If you need more hints I think I’ll just leave you to your wonderful innocent world. I’d hate to taint you in anyway. SO we got ourselves a Love motel because Jasmine had a good vibe from it (ha ha hahahahahaa, still laugh about that) and hit the stores. Then we met up with my friends from orientation and had a couple of drinks. Jasmine wasn’t feeling well and we really weren’t doing much of anything except walk around so we got a taxi back to the hotel and fell asleep. Apparently all through the night people were having loud and crazy…conversations…all of which I slept through. Poor Jasmine!!

Next day we packed up and shoved our stuff in a locker at the train station and headed for the beach. BEAUTIFUL beach. Then we got our hair cut and headed back to Andong.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good Morning Land of the Morning Calm

Yesterday was my first day of teaching. I failed. At least it felt like it at first. I stood up in front of the class and started my introduction and students...were falling asleep.
I started to think I had been lied to! These student's don't want to learn English! They only want a free period to lay their heads down and snooze. The students who went so far as to lay their heads down got a good tapping on their desk by me as I cheerfully called out "Good Morning" to them. I think I scared a couple of them...and all I can say to that is "Good. Be afraid."

Ahhh, I think as a whole yesterday was  bomb...but there were no casualties so I guess I will take that as a good thing. Out of the four classes two of them went well.

Ok, boring update aside I want to talk about my future!! This weekend I have nothing to do, which after my first week of teaching that may be a very good thing, but next weekend is going to be amazing. My friend Chul is in Jeonju (where I had my orientation) and he has invited me back for a mini reunion. I am so excited to see him again. Yay!!

Next Wednesday I should be getting a phone so that is even HAPPIER news. That way I can travel to meet my friend and not worry about getting lost or have any difficulty finding him (or vice versa).

Then the weekend after that, if funds allow, I will be traveling to the North side of South Korea. A friend of mine that I met at orientation, Chretien, wants to travel and we seem to get along well enough to handle traveling together. Those are basically his words, not mine. =D I don't care. I want to travel and now I have a travel buddy. He seems the adventurous kind and that's what I'll need to get me out of here and all over Korea :) But this is all dependent upon funds!

Ahh, things are looking up.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Update

Money here is amazing. It is so cheap. 1,000 won is $1.00 US and dinner (if you eat out) ranges from 3,000 to 7,000. You get A LOT of food for 7, 000. If you want really fancy it can get up to 20,000 per person but that's when you're breaking out the beef (raw), sushi, noodles, rice, soups, fish, etc. More food than you could possibly eat ever in your life. Is the food great? Yes and no...but I'd say the same thing about American food!


On my very first night arriving here in Andong I was treated to that 20.00 meal. Let me give you a list of the food I ate :) I will add the Korean names later when I get home (I'm at work right now).

Raw Beef. Yes, it had seseme oil (which apparently make everything better?)
Raw Fish. Sushi. It was in strips over rice.
Octopus. Raw? Boiled? Does it matter? That chewey little morsel was not a repeat offense
Bean Sprout Soup. LOVED IT! OMG DO I LOVE IT. Possibly because it was bland, cool, and I knew what it was :)
A beef dish. I don't know what it was but it was amazing. I ate the whole thing in front of me.
Pumpkin Soup. That was the appetizer. SOOO YUMMY!

As for funny stories...well I'm the lightest girl in all of Andong so...yeah some good stories. Blonde hair is gorgeous and so is pale skin. I'm tan (for me) now so I can't wait until Winter. I am teaching Middle School girls which is about elementary English in the states so I'm not worried.

One story is centered around a drink called "Soju". This is a sneaky sneaky drink that starts off easy to drink, a complete opposite in the states, right? So it starts nice and smooth and the second one....you can taste the alcohol but it is managable. The Third....yeah more alcohol buuuuuuuut you can handle it. By the fourth you're tipsy and the drink is horrible! You can't imagine why people drink the stuff and you aren't looking forward to the next one. But get this, you drink with your co teachers and principals here. Seriously. They take you out to dinner and you drink Soju. They can handle SO much more than me. Anyways, funny story with soju, right. Tipsy Amanda cannot be held accountable for her actions, OK? My notebook is covered with notes from Korean boys who have written their numbers and email addresses! I have no friggin' clue who they are. No clue.
Second story when I met my Principal we talked and suddenly he whips out this sheet of paper and starts reading it to me. It's in English and I'm thinking he wants me to compliment him on his English. No. He wants me to explain what "In Tune" means. In terms of music.

Picture this:  I'm in the middle of his office MIMING music as well as singing. He's like the president of the building and I am in his oval office. Now whenever he sees me he give me a funny look and I give him a confused one...and he starts laughing. Apparently he thinks I'm hilarious.

He also tells me that I need to learn more Korean and learn to love Korea so I will stay forever. He pointed out all the single male teachers. Ahahahahahaha...no.
 
Every day at lunch he gives me a look, tests my Korean, tells me I need to study harder, and walks away. I'm not offended in the least. Probably because he stated he wants me to love Korea so I must learn Korean, right? Right.
 
So there is my update.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wee little update :)

I have a full week of lessons to look forward to and I'm ready for it. I have spent the entire day building lesson plans since apparently that is what I'm supposed to do this week. Oh well. The more time I spend here the less I have to spend during my free time.

This weekend we went to the East Sea. I have pictures but they are all on my home computer. I will load them when I get home.

One of the things I will have to get used to is this feeling of always being watched. Funny thing is, I am. It isn't because they think I'm doing suspicious things or up to no good...it's because I'm different. Oh well. Back to the sea:

The East Sea was beautiful and not too long of a drive away. I went with Ian, Sara, Heelak, and Katelyn. I dipped my toes in the water and that's about as far as I got. We then went to Pohang and i saw the fish market for the first time. I was literally surrounded by living fish caught in tanks and swimming around. I couldn't help but think they were trying to escape! I started to get a little upset and was trying to get a grip when my friend turned to me and pointed at some crabs on ice. She said, " See, isn't that more humane? They're on ice...so it's like they are sleeping." I lost it. I was very upset. Not at anyone...just upset. I think something on a smaller scale would have been preferable for my first time.
Oh well. A few tears over the lives of some nameless fish isn't too bad. I just needed some alone time. Some recovery time. Heelack went to visit his uncle and I stayed behind to cool down and reflect. Oh man, that was intense.

We made it home safely and now I'm at my school getting ahead. The faster I work the less I have to do in the future and perhaps the more time i have to tweek the lessons into perfection.

Yay!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jeo-neun Amanda imnida

I am Amanda  or.... 저는 Amanda 입니다

It has taken me approximately two days to say "Jeoneun Amanda imnida" with some confidence. I still do not know how to say Goodbye so I can start a conversation....but I do not know how to end it.

I should practice the basics, right? Hello. Goodbye. Where is the bathroom? Do you speak English? and How do I get to ___________?

I'm really good at saying "Annyeongha-seyo!" ( 안녕하세요 Hello) to random people which is a good start.


The last two days we've had Korean Language lessons. It is more like reading Hangul, the written language, instead of learning any words or useful phrases. The first night, after a long day of lessons about Korea and lesson planning, we were coralled into a classroom only to be told we were in the wrong class. So we relocate into a already crowded room where the speedest lesson I've ever had in my life began. All I can say is I think I left more confused than when I came and the cloudy sense of doom seemed to hover a bit closer to earth.

Tonight we were once again put into a different room and quite honestly 10 minutes into the classroom I wanted to give the teacher a hug. Knowing that he wouldn't accept such behavior from a student I had to sit calmly in my seat and stick to learning. I'm still a mess but I think that cloud got kicked back up into its place. For that, I give my humblest of thanks to Mr. Chullsun Juhng; 감사합니다 (Gamsaha-mnida =thank you).


Would you like a little language lesson one day? Maybe I'll prepare something and pu t it up for you :) right now I'm bushed so I'm going to go to bed. Until then, here are a few photos to get you by!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anyoung-ha-say-yo

Though that is by no means how it is spelled you now know how to say "hello" in Korean. This is one of many phrases that I must master by the end of Orientation in order to show my future co teachers respect and that I am very interested (and happy?) to learn about Korean Culture.

For those of you who know me pretty well you know that I struggle with learning any language.

However, I DO know that they are a forgiving group of people and will enjoy my efforts at the language.

So far my trip here has been eventful but in a non-threatening or worrisome manner. I am at Jeonju University with a lot of other EPIK teachers all anxiously awaiting for the next day and particularly Wednesday when we all find out which city and school age we will be working with. A lot of people already know the city but I think that is because it is a metropolitan city, like Daegu, where it is practically its own province. In fact, because I thought i was the only one who didn't know where i was going, I looked it up. Daegu is considered its own metropolitan province which is now separate from Gyeongbuk (loosely pronounced John-book). Gyenbuk is my province and I can't wait to find out where I will be going in this wonderful country.

Already a new friend and I have gone exploring around the little university town and find the strange symbols to be quite engaging. We both have decided that we need to take some lessons in Korean so we can get around a bit better.

The weather is hot and humid, much like Missouri, so I'm finding it easier to adjust than most people. Literally there are people from 7 different countries all here for the same thing. I have met countless people from England, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US. The US dominates, though, as I found out at our official orientation meeting.

I wish I had brought my camera since we were treated to a drum show, a fan dance, and a taekwondo demonstration. I learned my lesson. From now on I will bring my camera EVERYWHERE!

I have pictures of some of the food I have already tried. Kimchi, the side dish that I see everywhere, is going to be an acquired taste. It is a spicy dish of pickled or fermented cabbage with spices. Thank God I love spicy food or I'd be in a world of disappointment with this staple of the Korean diet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

in seoul

Arriving in a new place while it is still dark out is recommended I think. As i sit by a window after the stress of finding the place i need to be there is something calming about the new world being revealed a little bit at a time. Of course the strange language whispering through the speakers in the airport tells me right away I'm no longer home I think the stress and panic I would normally fear has been lessoned considerablly by the simple passing of the sun.

the plants aren't entirely different but there is a unique strangeness to it all that sends jolts of pleasure through my body. I'm scared out of my pants...but I know everything will be alright.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Can I smell your hair?

My last post about my epic journey on the kansas city bus. I am almost sad that it had to end like this but I honestly should have known better than to think it would be a quiet exit.

Sitting in the bus on my way to work and this guy hops on and gives me "the look". Girls, you know what look I am talking about. Automatically I jerk my eyes away and try my best to prevent the rolling of my eyes. Incidentally this may have made me appear shy or interested since he sat himself across the aisle from me.
"You look nice today" I can't help but groan inwardly. A seemingly nice compliment can all too quickly turn to raunchy suggestions and appraising eyes. However, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thanked him for his compliment. Then...he fulfills my original assumption that he wasn't just making a comment to pass the time.

"Can I smell your hair?"

Of course I'm more than a little confused at this point and I have to ask him to repeat himself. No way is this guy really asking to smell my hair.

"Can I smell your hair?" Oh God, he meant it. So I politely shake my head and tell him he may not smell my hair. He then slides in this interesting little opinion, "It's just shampoo, girl. It smells so nice from over here."
Disturbed and a bit concerned over the well-being of my hair I cock an eyebrow and promptly suggest he purchase his own bottle of shampoo so he can smell it any time he wants. After a bit of convincing he slowly realizes that he isn't getting anywhere close enough to me to smell my hair he pushes towards a new topic of conversation: How much money he has.

Basically the guys that talk to me all have the same speech. I could break it down as easily as I could in a 7th grade paper.

Introduction: Has to have that GRABBER sentence, that obscure strange or just plaine weird statement that will hopefully grab the girl's attention. Don't forget about the thesis. Their body language and choice of words will easily tell you what will come next.

paragraph 1: talk about money. talk about how much money you have. If she asks you why you're riding the bus say you were in an accident or your buddy was borrowing it cause you're sweet like that. Or that you've won the lottery but like to still ride the bus. Please, be believeable and dress the part by wearing over-sized pants and top it off with a leery smile.

paragraph 2: talk about how tough you are. you can hook the first paragraph to this one by saying someone owes you money so you're going to beat him up to get it. sadly this make your "millionare" or "lottery" story seem rather weak and most girls with half a brain can see right through it.

paragraph 3: You're somehow famous or WILL be famous but you're still the family type. Please, be sure to talk about all your babies from different mamas and how you take care of them ALL. One day I will see you on the billboards and whatever. Pick a talent you think you have and go for it.

conclusion: then compliment her weight, chicks dig this. Espeically if you like overweight chicks since they really like being reminded of that on the bus. We do see it as a turn on when men point out what could be a real problem for us, the pandora's box of all our insecurities. Don't forget to keep eyecontact at all times. It doesn't creep us out. OH and be REAL assertive if we refuse to shake your hand after your wonderful speech about how amazing YOU are.


I think that concludes my trips on the bus. They haven't been that horrible to be honest. Don, the bus driver, was amazing. Richard the rider kept me smiling. It got me to where I needed to go and it kept it mighty interesting.

Thank you for a great year!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday "Rosa"

After getting off the bus I had to catch another to get home. By the second or third stop I had a seat partner and she was a spunky lady with a black dress with tiny flowers all over it. Her skin was tan, her eyes brown, and her hair a few shades darker which gave her a rather sun-kissed look. She immediately started talking to me and her accent was truly interesting. After a few sentences I was able to understand her better and we started talking.

Immediately she gave me her life story. She moved here from Italy when she was 18 because she was married to a soldier, she was turning 70 this year, and her children were too busy with their own lives to help her go get some groceries. So she was going to go get some herself!

After a while we got to talking about death and how one shouldn't fear it because it is God's will and not our own--therefore if it is His will then He knows what is happening and we never will so why should we worry?

I couldn't argue with her logic so I merely shrugged and smiled. She talked about her grand children and the topic of my age and if I was or was not single came up. Then she described the many fine attributes of her 27 year old grandson who is a firefighter. Her 24 year old grandson is engaged so he is not available. HAHA.

When her stop came up she shook my hand and asked for my name. When I asked her for her name she said, "Rosa" I thought it was pretty and she scoffed and said "I hate my name. It was my mama's name and it was HER mama's name. I hate that name." I had to fight the desire to hop off the bus with her just to hear the story of why exactly she hated that name.


Ah Rosa, thank you for making that a wonderful bus ride!

Friday "Help Wanted"

Last Sunday I came back to Kansas City after a week long vacation back home. It was filled with adventure, if you call a short sorjourn to Omaha an adventure, before we finally touched down on mid-western soil. I had chatted with an Army guy for the flight and was sad to wave goodbye as my wonderful (and patient) ride walked with me out of the airport.

We made it just in time for church to hear the words that have been popping up in my head all week. "As a Christian do we have room to complain about our life?" Interesting thought, hmm? I can't count the number of times I've complained about having to ride the bus when all I want is a quart of milk from the grocery store. Or when they took away my favorite bus stop which means my one hour comute to the zoo is now a two hour one.

No, I really should have nothing to complain about and yesterday I almost forgot about this....

I usually have a ride to and from work Monday through Thursday but because my wonderful friend has a second job she can't give me a ride home on Friday. I have no real complaint about this since I know the route and it involves no real crunch for time.

On route the bus picks up one of the men from the street. The guys who stand on the corner holding up the signs that say "Please help me" or "I'm homeless -- Please Help" and they collect money from do-gooders and people with spare change. It is a lucrative business I hear where people are either getting scammed or actually helping someone in need. I guess it doesn't matter since the person giving is doing so with good intentions...even if that money isn't going where it is believed it is going...

He gets on the bus and sits two or three seats in front of me. I'm busy looking out the window, minding my own buisiness and trying not to make eyecontact (since he certainly is trying to) when he says, "Never been to the zoo before. Thinking about going. How much does it cost?" He proceeds to count his money that he's earned while he waits for an answer. "11.50 for adults and 10.50 for seniors" I reply with a smile. I am not too sure about the senior citizen rate but I figure it's around that much and if it is less then it will be his lucky day if he qualifies! Thinking that was all he wanted to know, or at least hoping it is, I open up my trusty book and begin to read. The moment my attention is focused on something else he starts talking to me again. I look up and have to ask him to repeat himself numerous times. Finally I get out, "You work there, do you?" Since I'm wearing the bright yellow shirt with the words "Kansas City Zoo Staff" I can only smile and nodd at his question.

Back to reading and he once again tries to say something but with the loud bus and the talking people there isn't a chance in Hell I'm going to hear him again so I simply shrug and go back to reading. Then in comes the guilt. The whole, "What if he's a good person on hard times and I'm treating him like a low-life" then there is the argument of "He just wants to talk to you in hopes of playing on your pity to get something from you."

I really wish I could believe the former rather than the latter but I kept feeling his eyes on my for the duration of the ride. Each time I looked up he was staring at me. Not looking away but STARING at me...as if he expected something from me. Officially creeped out I called my mom and left a message telling her I'd be home soon and that I loved her. I kept gender and location out so he'd think that I was going home to someone and they knew I'd be there soon. PHEW!

I hop off and he stands like he plans to follow but the driver keeps him from doing so. Safe.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A new chapter

I have been thinking a lot lately about how I am going to change the direction of this blog. Originally it was meant for comedic relief, a candid look into my life and my many adventures using the Kansas City Public Transportation. Since starting this blog, however, my experiences dwindled down to one every month instead of each and every time my toes touched the rubber encased steps.




The reason my thoughts had taken me down this particular road is because my path, once again, is shifting. I could easily document the steps I have to take to prepare myself for my journey outside the states or I could keep up with the comedic side of my life and try to maintain the simple, yet delightful, glimpse into situations that could “only happen to me”.



I suppose as I continue to write I shall ultimately make my decision. If you know me at all you can probably guess which way I shall lean towards. However, since the country I shall be living in for the next year is full of rich history and interesting traditions I am almost positive a lot of my contributions will be educational and hopefully offer a new perspective on this ancient culture.



I swear that will be the most exciting part. Ancient History has always been a little passion of mine. This is because I always love a good story and much of what we know from history was passed down by word of mouth. I think any class would have been a lot more interesting if it had all been presented to us as “story time”.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So I got in...

What I have probably mentioned in the past is that I have been applying for a 'job' in South Korea teaching English.
I got it.


I can't believe it. I got it. I am so amazed that I feel like I should get everything done right now so I can ensure my slot in the next semester's program.

I had the interview on Monday and less than 12 hours later I had a response saying I had passed the interview stage and they would like to invite me to go to South Korea.

WOW!

So I guess the whole theme of this blog will change from my adventures in KC to my adventures in SK....

Weird

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two kinds of spiders....and only one Houdini

In Missouri there are two kinds of spiders you really have to worry about. The Black Widow and the Brown Recluse.
I'm honestly not too worried about the former but the latter because...I think one is in my house. =(

Now, getting a bite is dangerous but not necessarily DEADLY. It's just that when it happens the skin starts to rot away around the bite until you get it fixed. I won't post any pictures because just that one is giving me the wiggles.

 As for the Houdini part...I swear to you I have killed it three times. THREE times.

First time I saw him I sucked him up in the vacuum. Shoulda killed him. Works with other spiders. I mean, I sucked him up and kept RIGHT on vacuuming. Shoulda been at least burried with the dust and dirt from the rugs, right?

Second time I saw him he was in the bathroom. I soaked him with air freshener but when I went to go collect the body...it was GONE.

Then I saw him creep and crawl a day later on the arm of my couch. I smashed him with a shoe...but no body.

HOUDINI has possessed the body of a spider and my momma is coming down this weekend.

I have mourned his death three times now and NO MORE. I shall find him and his death will be swift and merciful--I hope.

I really really hope he dies this time =(

Ok, so I still feel a little bad. =(

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Camps! 2

So camp finally started this week and what a WONDERFUL event it is =)

I have three campers in this camp that i had last year in the younger group. How exciting is that? Kory and I got some amazing reviews and the best part? We didn't have to ASK them what they thought of the day. They TOLD us (without asking, I say again) that they had fun!!!

PHEW

What did we do?

We fed Lorikeets:

                       
They are the loud birds not too far from the entrance of the zoo!

Then we went back to the classroom and had a discussion about the 4 cornerstones of the zoo. These cornerstones are affiliated with the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) To be AZA certified you have to meet a set level of standards. Super HIGH standards. It is hard to become AZA certified and difficult to maintain it for some zoos. It was made to ensure the health and safe management of the zoo animals so there is no unregulated breeding or unsafe habitats for them. It is really for the overal safety of the animals. So if you ever go to a Zoo as if they are AZA certified....if they are not...then just be wary of what you see.

So I mentioned the 4 cornerstones, right? Well here they are:
1. Conservation
2. Research
3. Education
4. Entertainment

I work with Education but people in our department are a part of the Research part of the zoo. To be AZA certified you are given a special "animal" to do research on and work towards conservation of that animal. So obviously they are endangered and research is needed in order to protect and conserve these animals. What is the Kansas City Zoo's animal? The Wyoming Toad! EXCITING!?!?





They are dying do to a fungus that has literally wiped out a majority of the species. We have special "ark's" where they are raised. Security is so tight around these little guys that you have to be a specialist to enter the 'ark' to care for them. Once they have grown to adulthood they are then transported, by people from the KC zoo, and released (after they've been microchipped) back into the wild.
Their hope? To boost the population and see if any fungus-resistant toads make it!!

Anyways, we also went to Africa and had a keeper chat. SO much fun.

Tomorrow we're going to Austraila and Asia, doing an OIL spill lab, and working on Terra Cotta warriors (it will tie in with the Asia segment of our tour).