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 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 cafĂ© 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 ;)


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 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


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 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.
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.