Monday, April 25, 2011

Skip the Engagement! Let's get married!

Hold the phone, people! I'm not married...officially. It happened rather quickly my head is still reeling!

What was I wearing? Kakhis and a nice shirt.
Where there a lot of people there? About 35
What was it like? There was a lot of laughter, knowing smiles, and tears of joy. We were surrounded by people we have genuine affection for. All in all it was a lovely ceremony.

Actually it was one of the funniest classes that I've had in a LONG time.

I was trying to teach my students what "complaining" meant by using an example. I said that when I ask a student to come to the front of the class to speak English I get the same reaction, "Amanda teacher, whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy? Next-uh. Pass! Englishee NO!" so they are 'complaining'.

It worked in ALL of my classes except one.

One of my students loudly protested that she would not complain and that she'd be happy to stand up in class and speak English. Calling her bluff I invited her to the front of the class where she proceeds to speak in broken English. "Amanda, I love you. You and I, married?"
Before I can even think she grabs my arm, hooks it around hers, and starts walking me down the aisle. SHe is, of course, humming the wedding march as we walk. I'm laughing so hard I have tears welling up in my eyes. When we finish our walk I gently push her back to her desk and try my best to compose myself.
I've already lost the students but I know with a few stern words I'll have them back on track.

Still, the memory makes me smile.

My 'husband's' name? : Delete (English Name).

Love it.

Attack of the Ajuma

Yes, it has finally happened. I have been "attacked" by the sweet elderly women that live here in Korea.
Don't be fooled by their sweet appearances and their crooked smiles. Beneath that facade is a woman on a mission.

1. It happened on a nice warm night. I was at the store with a friend buying some last minute items for dinner when this sweet old lady came walking in. Immediately she spots me and starts rambling in Korean. Being the kind waygook (foreigner) that I am I smile happily and say 감사합니다 (kamsamnida=thank you) because I'm pretty sure she was complimenting me by picking up some of the words she was saying like 예쁘다 (yeppuda=pretty).
Anyways, I'm going about my business and finally head towards the check out. I'm talking to Jasmine while the clerk rings up my order. Out of NO WHERE this woman sneaks up from behind and starts to pat my butt all the while rambling in Korean. I freeze out of pure shock.
This woman is touching me.
Then she goes in for the pinch. I jump and I'm pretty sure I squealed or sqeaked...some kind of noise squeezed between my lips. I start blushing up a storm, Jasmine can't help but laugh, and that lovely woman is laughing and still babbling in Korean. The clerk is embarassed and just keeps his head low while I'm left to defend myself against the gropings of what seemed to be a sweet old lady.

Be warned--don't turn your backs on them!

2. I was at dinner with a friend of mine when the server, a middle aged woman, suddenly sits down next to me and grabs my hand. She then proceeds to start speaking to me (in Korean) all the while stroking my hand. She doesn't stop there. She then starts touching my face and repeating the word "아기" (ah-gee) which means baby in Korean. I didn't know what to do! Would it be rude for me to jerk my hand away and ask her to not touch me? She wasn't causing harm or really creepy about it but it was still really unnerving to have a complete stranger touching me.

The culture is totally different here. Where I'm used to having my own personal space no matter where I go or the relationship I have with a person HERE you generally have to forfeit any ideas of ever having my space to myself. Boys holding hands is OK. People draped all over each other (at school level) is OK. Even at the bars we'll see a lot of affectionate touching between the same sex.
What I kind of admire about it is that it's not sexual. Whenever my friend talks to me and wants to offer encouragement she sees nothing wrong with wrapping her arms around my shoulders and giving an affectionate side-hug. Holding students do it out of habbit when we happen to be walking down the street (don't worry we come to our senses before anything happens =P).
Oh goodness: HOLDING HANDS! It's like people cannot talk to you without some sort of physical link between the two of you. It's mainly between women but, again, I've seen it between the men.

So strange!

I like it =D

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Different Holidays!

So here in Korea we have some different holidays that I feel should be mentioned. There are official holidays where we get days off of work and there are the fun made-up ones that even us Waygooks (foreigners) can enjoy.

January 1st: Solar New Year. This is what it is...we celebrate it differently in the US by drinking and making loud noises. Here in Korea, or at least in Busan where I celebrated the new year, they ring a bell and everyone is silent. Cold and silent. Unfortunately my friend and I didn't catch on until our fourth or fifth "HAPPY NEW YEAR" which we screamed to everyone around us. Don't worry. A lot of the Korean people got caught up in our joy and responded in kind.

February 2 - 4, 2011 Seollal Or better known as "Lunar New Year" we get an actual day off for this day...actually a couple of days off. It's super nice. We eat yummy soup with rice dumplings. It tastes a lot like chicken dumpling soup. SO GOOD! I celebrated Lunar New Year with my landlords. They invited me to dinner where we had the traditional food and talked about school.

February 14 Valentine's Day. Not exactly like home since this is the day where the GIRL gives the GUY candy or chocolate. Yay!

March 1 Independence Movement Day Not really independence day...but a day where they celebrate the MOVEMENT of Independence from Japan. We get a day off and everyone "takes a rest"

March 14 White Day Not the racist day it implies. Today is the day where the GUY gives the GIRL candy. One month after Valentine's Day. Don't worry...the single people will be represented next month ;)

April 14 Black Day Ummm yeah. For those single people out there we get our own special day too. They eat noodles with Meat and Black Bean Sauce. It is called 자장면 (Jajangmyeon). Yummy. Apparently it gives you gas out.

May 1 Labor Day Not a real national holiday but banks and some businesses are closed. This year it falls on a Sunday so I'm not sure if school teachers get it off or not. 

May 5 Children's Day On this day, parents dress up their little ones and take them to children’s parks, amusement parks, zoos, or to the cinema for a full day of fun and games. Lucky kids <3 and the teachers who get the day off as well!

May 8 Parent's Day Not too far behind Children's Day is Parent's Day!! ON this day Sons and Daughters show their love and appreciation for their parents. I think it is a substitute for Mother's and Father's Day in America.

May 10  Buddha’s Birthday I've been told it is this day that is the BEST for visiting temples because lanterns are strung up from every available branch and building. They also have parades with the lit lanterns at night--I can't wait to see it!

May 14th – Rose Day or Yellow Day Ha haa you guessed it!! There had to be ANOTHER thing on the 14th. Beginning to see a trend? Couples exchange roses, and those lonely hearts gather for curry and companionship. Apparently dressing in yellow is also recommended.

June 6 Memorial Day Just like America they celebrate and honor the soldiers and civilians who have given their lives for their country.

June 14th – Kiss Day The day when couples kiss each other. There is one site puts it as: ‘Lovers confess their feelings to one another and kiss passionately.’ Just another excuse to make out really!!

July 14th – Silver Day Couples can freely ask their friends to give them money to pay for a date! Couples exchange gifts made of silver, and announce their relationship to their friends. I’m thinking this is a good idea as you get yourself a free date day!

July 17 Constitution Day Commemorates the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea that was made on July 17, 1948.

August 14th – Green Day  Couples are supposed to dress in green, and walk outside in the woods. Singles would drink a (green) bottle of soju to console themselves.
August 15 Liberation Day Korea is liberated from Japan so we celebrate it :D


September 11 - 13 Chuseok A lot like American Thanks Giving they get together with their family and eat a lot of traditional Korean food. YUMMY!

September 14th – Photo & Music Day  Couples take photographs together, go out with friends in the evening to Noraebangs (Karaoke) or night clubs, places with music in order to make their relationship public.

October 3 National Foundation Day This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation in 2333 B.C.

October 9 Hangeul Day Hanguel is the Korean Language and on this day in 1446 it was created! WOO HOO!!

October 14th – Wine Day  Couples have wine on this day, because wine drinking is the thing to do in autumn.

October 24th – Apple Day  The Korean word for apple is called ‘Sa-gwa’ (사과), also means to apologize. On this day, friends, family and couples give an apple to each other to apologize for past mistakes.

November 11 is Pepero Day!! It is named after the Korean snack Pepero and held on November 11, since the date "11/11" resembles four sticks of Pepero. The holiday is observed mostly by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks, other candies, and romantic gifts.

November 14th – Movie & Orange Day  Couples would watch a movie together while having some orange juice.

December 14th Hug Day  Couples are meant to hug one another lovingly to stay warm in the cold winter months. Before you ask.."NO!" to premature hugs for the year. Couples can only hug on THIS DAY!! Single people? Go and find someone to hug cause you're not restricting to showing the love to just one person ^^

December 25 Christmas NOT such a big deal here in Korea. The older kids do not get Christmas presents but they still celebrate the Holiday with traditional Korean Foods.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Yes...that's what it is, folks. Sadness. Today I said good bye to my 3 year students and to some of my teachers. Two of my co teachers are leaving to go to other schools as well as 9 others. Most of them I could care less if they leave. Honestly, I haven't spoken two words in greeting to them since the day of my arrival. It isn't because I don't like them but because of the langage barrier.
Anyways, I have been a little emotional with all the changes going on around me. Losing two of my co teachers has me upset and I tend to get a little worked up over the little things.

Last night we had a Farewell dinner. That's when I found out that some of the other friendly faces in the office were leaving as well. I couldn't help it. I started to cry. Not the wailing of a 2 year old who skinned her knee. Nope, just the burning eyes and a quick dash of my hands. I couldn't cry in front of these people. I just couldn't.

Of course my co teacher (who isn't leaving) saw me and commented that I looked sad. I told her I was and that I didn't want them to go.

One of the male teachers who is leaving came up to me and told me he enjoyed working with me. He isn't one of my co teachers but he was a friendly face that I liked seeing every day at work. He recently married in December and his wife is expecting (Honeymoon Baby, as he put it). Of course I said I was very happy for him but he too commented that I did not look well. My co teacher, thinking she was helping, told him that I was very sad that everyone was going. That's when the dam, once again, threatened to break. I was once again forced to quickly wipe at my eyes and smile through the pain. Needless to say he was touched by my open display of emotion and kept going on and on about how much he enjoyed me working at the school and that he hoped I continue to work there. 

It is very difficult already living in a new place but to add to it the different culture, language, and just LOOK of the place. I had finally started to get comfortable here. I had started to kind of get into a groove that worked for me. The familiarity of my home and workplace were keeping me anchored while a storm of the unknown swarmed around me.
Now I just lost one of my anchors.

Soon, I hope, I will be moving into a new apt. A bigger one.

Anchor number 2.

This morning my co teacher wrote this to me:

Good morning, Amanda!
It's snowing. I think you miss your hometown so much now.
It's time to say good-bye to you.
I was so happy to teach students with you last year.
And I was always surprised to see your ppt for classes.
I hope you are always healthy and you try your best for our students.
Farewell. Good luck to you!!

Ah quickly these people creeped into my heart and made a home there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Desk Warming

There is nothing warm about Desk Warming unless you count the cushion my body rests itself for hours at a time. I'm afraid to get up and move for fear of losing that heat.

Desk warming is this joy that a lot of EPIK teachers get to experience during the Winter holidays when the students are away. We still have to work the 22 hours so we show up, sit down, and count the hours until we can be free once again.

It wouldn't be so bad if the rooms were warm...but they are not. They are freezing. I have one heater by my legs and one that his taller to hit me full force in the back. I'm one of the lucky ones.

To get an idea as to how cold it is...the water in the western toilet froze in the bowl. Not completely but the first centimeter or two was solid ice--something I was not totally aware of until it was too late. Once again I'm forced to use a squatty. *sigh*

Other than the cold it is great getting caught up on all my lessons and having all the time in the world to brain storm new ideas for the next year. I still have no clue as to what I will be doing for free lessons...the lessons where I get to pick and choose what to teach. I'm sure I'll come up with something ^^

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuna Fish Dreams

To break away from the norm of updating you all on my life I thought I'd give you a little peak into my subconscious and tell you about a dream I had last night.

To fully understand why this dream totally took away any sense of peace and security you have to know one thing. I'm deathly afraid of sharks. Like, I get nervous seeing them on TV and when I'm in an aquarium I'm constantly reassuring myself that there is glass keeping me safe. So, I guess It's not deathly afraid but it's enough to keep me from swimming in most bodies of water. Lake Michigan is my exception but even then my imagination can totally ruin it for me. continue. My dream:

I'm on a boat in a place like Venice, Italy. It's like the city was in ruins or we're in a REALLY old city that fell into the sea. No one else is here. It isn't one of those little boats that the guy on the stick pushes you around with,'s like a smallish yacht and we're on the outside of the city in a little lagoon type place. Why are we there? To see the small whales that come here to eat and interact with people. Apparently it is a big deal that me and these strangers get to do this so everyone is super excited. I'm not. The water is dark and there are these huge beasts (the whales) swimming around in a very small body of water.

The strangers I am with are:
Two scuba divers who I think are just in it for kicks and giggles. They mention something about swimming for duct tape. A couple.
The owners of the yacht which is a overweight man and a very strong and capable woman. Every one is tan and firm of muscle but this woman seems like she could handle her own in a fight but there is a kindness in her eyes that is important for later on in the dream.

One person isn't a stranger and it is this guy I've met here in Korea. Or at least I think he is. It's's like he's a western version of himself. He didn't look like him but in my dream I KNEW it was him.

Anyways, everyone is keen on swimming with the whales and even I start to get a little excited. The sky is dark and it looks like rain. Not a big deal seeing as I'm from a state that is mostly cloudy at all times of the year. I dip my toes in the water and try to focus on the fact that these gentle beasts are vegetarians. They aren't even interested in a piece of me. I slip into the water but after about 30 seconds I'm done and try to swim to the boat. Something just isn't right. Plus the water is dark and I have no idea what kind of carnivorous species of plant, insect, amphibian--whatever--lives in the muck and grime of the sea floor.

I slip onto the boat and assure everyone I'm ok. The sky is getting darker and I start to shiver. I am telling myself that there is no reason for me to freak out. The owners tell me that nothing dangerous can get here which is why the whales can be found here--it is safe. If there are whales then there are no sharks.

yeah...that "logic" didn't really assure me cause if that were true then no whale on the whole planet would have ever been killed by a shark. Yeah right.

So I'm watching everyone splash and swim with the whales when I get this FEELING that something bad is going to happen. Really, there is no way in HELL a shark could get in there. The whales get there because it has something to do with the tides and the seasons...anyway there is one outlet to the sea and it is narrow. The whales are small, smaller than the typical human-eating shark. However, there are channels that bring in water from the the sea because it's venice and it just makes sense.

SO I start freaking out a little cause the sky is getting darker and I can't shake this dark feeling of dread. The lady owner of the yacht sees that I'm in distress and agrees to take me back to the main part of the city. That's when things start to happen. I'm in a near state of panic because i KNOW something is wrong and suddently there is an influx of water through the chanels. I mean  the small trickle turns to bursts of water. The little yaht can't fight the force of the water and the owner is about ready to just turn back and join the others. I'm not OK with that so I jump out and start trying to climb to higher ground.

She tries to follow me and just as she jumps off the boat to follow me another huge wave of water slams through the channel and takes out the boat. Smashed to bits.

Now because the city is below sea level (in my dream) there are pipes and whatnot throughout the city to keep the water evenly dispersed and prevent flooding. So, I'm trying to get ABOVE these. I need to be above sea level -now-.

As I'm trying to climb up and the lady is telling me to stop and that we need to return to the others I hear a sickening crunch and look up at the pipe. There is a dead body stopping the water from draining.

Then the rain comes and bam--we can hear the people in the lagoon screaming. Apparently that last rush of water had not only destroyed the boat but brought something nasty from the sea. Yep--a shark. A super crazy human-hungry shark.

Through another series of drawn out and sickening sights I witness the death of each individual who foolishly thought they could out-wit the man hungry shark.

So my whole goal is to just CLIMB to the highes tpoint and wait out this freak storm and hope that someone will come to rescue me. That's when I realize i'm not the only survivor. The guy is alive and he's on a rocky cliff like thing not too far from me. What separates us is water so there is NO way in Hell we're crossing it just to offer comfort to one another.
So there we are, wet, cold, and shivering with the only other living thing circling the murky water between us.

A helicopter comes in to try to save us but the moment the guy comes down the ladder the shark jumps out of the water and tries to take a snap at him. Needless to say with these super animal powers it ends up taking down the helicopter and therefore our rescue.

By this time both of our nerves are frayed to the point of no return and I just curl up in a ball and give up. It hasn't stopped raining and the water level is only getting higher and higher. I know the souless eyes of the blood thirsty killer is just waiting for the second where it can snack on my lifeless body. The guy keeps trying to keep me awake telling me someone would be back to rescue us but I can't believe him. Nope. I'm just done.

That's when I wake up. Granted I woke up repeatedly throughout the night but the dream just wouldn't end. I blame it on the tuna fish and rice I ate before going to bed. x.x

according to this dream interpretation site this is what some of it means:

To see a whale in your dream, represents your intuition and awareness. You are in tuned with your sense of spirituality. Alternatively, a whale symbolizes a relationship or business project that may be too big to handle. You are feeling overwhelmed. The dream may also be a pun on "wailing" and a desire to cry out about something.  

To see or taste saltwater in your dream, symbolizes tears and heartache. It may also indicate some emotional outburst or suffering.

To see muddy or dirty water in your dream, indicates that you are wallowing in your negative emotions. You may need to take some time to cleanse your mind and find internal peace. Alternatively, the dream suggests that your thinking/judgment is unclear and clouded. If you are immersed in muddy water, then it indicates that you are in over your head in a situation and are overwhelmed by your emotions. To dream that water is rising up in your house, suggests that you are becoming overwhelmed by your emotions.

To see a shark in your dream, indicates feelings of anger, hostility, and fierceness. You are undergoing a long and difficult emotional period and may be an emotional threat to yourself or to others. Perhaps, you are struggling with your individuality and independence, especially in some aspect of your relationship. Alternatively, a shark represents a person in your life who is greedy and unscrupulous. This person goes after what he or she wants with no regards to the well-being and sensitivity of others. The shark may also be an aspect of your own personality with these qualities.

To dream that you surrender, suggests that you need to rid yourself of past emotions and habit. It is time to let go. Alternatively, the dream indicates that you are giving up something important. Perhaps you are having second thoughts.