It seems like it has been forever since we last blogged. Sorry for those that check regularly (cough cough Brittany Williams cough cough). A lot has happened in our life and we have remained fairly busy.
Posted by Lauren at 7:40 PM
Pepero Day is an observance in South Korea similar to Valentine's 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. Lotte denies starting the holiday and instead states that they noticed a bump in Pepero sales around November 11th and after continued popularity they decided to then encourage the holiday with special gift boxes and other promotions. Some consider it to be a contrived holiday and some teachers have encouraged children to exchange healthy snacks to help combat obesity.
According to one story, Pepero Day was started in 1994 by students at a girls' middle school in Busan, where they exchanged Pepero sticks as gifts to wish one another to grow "as tall and slender as a Pepero".
Austin and I were showered today with Pepero sticks from our students, but don't worry we won't eat them all at once because my co-teacher made sure to remind me, "Lauren, don't eat all of those or you will get very fat!" Thanks, Young Jin, for reminding me of that!!
Posted by Lauren at 11:07 PM
Today, as well as everyday, I have been amazed by the number of extremely silly things that Koreans do (while thinking it is totally normal).
Korean Culture = Paradox = any person, thing or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature (thanks, dictionary.com).
For your enjoyment, please read below and feel free to laugh because I chuckle under my breath daily:
1. Recently in Korea it has gotten verrry cold, verrry fast. The winter is obviously approaching, which means heavy jackets, scarves and those hand warmers (yano, those square hand-held paper things that have the self-warming rock-type things in them to keep your hands warm during the winter? On a rabbit trail, the only memory I have from those until now is from Junior Cheerleading (Ponderosa Cowgirls) competitions that always seemed to be extremely cold. With our side pony tails, fire-engine-red lipstick and navy and white uniforms, we always used those hand warmers during the long day of competition!!!) Korean schools, yet, still leave all of the windows open (with cold gusts of wind coming into the classroom) Why, you ask? My friend Haley informed me it is because they think the open windows will "let the swine flu out."
a. This is funny because I didn't think that the flu would just let itself out like a house-guest.
b. The open-window perdicament means that the children and teachers are forced to keep their heavy winter jackets on during all 8 hours of school. I asked my co-teacher why the heater was not on in the school. His response: "Heaters? In school? That's crazy!"
c. The flu-letting-itself-out-open-windows, in my opinion, is going to make more children sick from the cold than the swine flu ever had the chance of doing.
2. After 4th period today (right before lunch) my co-teacher said, "Lauren, aren't you dizzy?" I got rather confused and then replied, "Well...no. Am I supposed to be?" For the record I think he meant 'are you dizzy?' but he then proceeded to tell me that he is very dizzy and needs nutrients in his brain. I suggested that maybe he was dehydrated since that could lead to dizziness and he rarely drinks water. He looked at me like that was the craziest idea ever and then proceeded to smack his head repeatedly with an empty water bottle and told me that he thought that that would make his head feel better.
We then arrived into the lunch room and he noticed that today for lunch we were having a brothy vegetable noodle soup rather than the typical protein dish, rice and kimchi. He gasped, "oh no!!! I need rice in my brain to make me less dizzy!" I kinda chuckled and then said "You know what? In the US many people do not eat white rice because it is a simple carbohyrdrate and they think it will make them fat and not give then as much nutrients as a complex carb." His response? "Why, that's crazy! Rice is the most nutritous vegetable there is!!!!"
haha. I have to laugh again as I type this.
3. Back onto the topic of the Swine Flu. (which Koreans are craaaazy obsessed with) Many Koreans (children in school, teachers, people on the street, etc.) wear face masks very similar to the ones that doctors wear while at work. Some are the typical solid blue or white, but the best ones are "designer face masks" that the children wear that have an animals face on them, usually with the ears protruding off of the face mask in a 3d fasion. They are crazy about the kids not getting swine flu and being very sanitary in all aspects of life, however, many things they do totally contradict that:
a. My co-teacher just cleaned all of the tables and all of the classroom with a dirty towel with a bit of water on it. He excused himself to wash the towel and I asked where he washes it. He said, "in the bathroom, of course. I sprinkle some water on it!" So, now the kids will be touching and working on totally dirty and NOT sanitary tables tomorrow!
b. In Korean bathrooms, you are not supposed to put toilet paper down the toilet. Instead, there are waste baskets next to the toilet that you simply drop your used t.p. in. These absolutely disgusting pieces of toilet paper might not aid to contracting the Swine Flu, but it is just downright gross.
c. Also in the bathrooms, we have bar soap to clean our hands with. Something about everyone in the whole school sharing the same bar soap does not make my hands feel clean...and they don't believe in paper towels because it will pollute the country so the kids walk out of the bathroom and wipe their hands on their pants, their shirts or their friends. Hello nasty.
That is all that has happened today at school, but I'm sure there will be even more before this beautiful Thursday is over!
Until next time, take care friends and family. We miss you all dearly.
Posted by Lauren at 2:41 PM
Posted by Lauren at 9:43 PM
With many of the 10,000,000+ Seoulites out of the city, (for Choesuk, the families all gather together at the paternal grandparents home, no matter where in the country that might be) us 6 were able to maneuver to city with more ease than if the entire population were present. We have heard from many people that the city was totally dead when we were there, so I can only imagine how many more people and how much busier it has to be! Starting our days at about 9 am and ending close to midnight or later each night attributed to tired feet, full stomachs and happy SEOULS!
What did we do and see?
the many different types of planes and machinery used in the Korean War
A Republic of Korea plane
The type of weapon that Austin's Grandfather used in the Korean War
- Myeongdong Shopping Area...so fun and busy, busy, busy!
A store strictly selling cell phone accessories! So Korean!
- Namdaemun Market, (the largest traditional market in the country) where Austin caved and finally bought his sought-after man-purse (he will kill me when he finds out I called it a man-purse over the internet for all to see!!!).
- Itaewon area (the "foreigners" area of Seoul due to its close proximity to the US Army Base). We ate Mexican food here, but it was not too authentic, so that made us have to go get more the next day :)
- Gyeongbok Palace (the largest palace in the country) was very pretty and traditional. We were smack dab in the middle of the city, but felt like we were totally removed and in a very peaceful area.
A cute little boy wearing a traditional hanbok outfit!
- Insadong Market area is where we stayed AND spent much of our time. Insadong is known for its traditional pottery and handmade gifts. There are also cafes and shops lining all the streets that all have a warm, European-like atmosphere.
- Sinchon area...mainly just the ON THE BORDER for steak/shrimp fajitas, guacamole and margs!!! Muy Bien :)- Dongdaemun Market that has some of the best clothes shopping deals in the city
Posted by Lauren at 4:58 PM
After laying out our "first day of school" outfit and our leather patent shoes last night, Austin and I survived our first days of school as Elementary School teachers and even have a few funny stories to document. But first, here is a run-down of our days:
Posted by Lauren at 8:23 PM
Posted by Lauren at 12:58 PM
You were going to get a quick tour of our apartment with some picture that I took, but this computer is taking forrrrever, so that will come soon!
Our adventures in Korea have continued to be new, different and very eye-opening (We Americans sure do have a way of thinking that everything we do is correct, even if we love to think that we are open-minded). After talking to our parents on Skype yesterday morning, (yahoo!) Austin and I ventured over to a Christian church that was down the street from the little bakery we were sitting at…yes, Koreans surprisingly LOVE their baked goo
ds AND they don’t have any funky fish products in them, unlike most of their foods. This bakery’s name was ‘Paris Baguette,’ which makes me laugh really hard because about 90% of the people in our city do not even know what “Hello” means! There are some random shops with English names that for a second makes me excited to think that there are English speakers, then
when I remember the situation we are in I get very confused as to why they would name their shops with English words. Continuing with that thought, I have yet to see one Korean with a t-shirt with Korean writing (hanguel)…yep, all English. I want to go up to them and say, “I’m sorry, do you e
ven know what your shirt says?” It confuses me.
Back to the church topic: So Austin and I mosey on down to the church (the only reason we know it is a church is because of the large cross at the top of the building- everything else in Korean) and walk
in only to be stared and pointed at by all of the people in there! It was like they had never seen an American before. There were four little girls who were probably about 7 years old that continually ran up to us, giggled and said “helllllooooooo!” They were the cutest things ever and it made me w
ant to adopt a Korean baby (Austin and I decided they are some of THE cutest babies out there!) We were welcomed by two women who grabbed my (Lauren’s) arm and led us into a fellowship/community area. The assistant pastor then came and sat with us and, amazingly, spoke excellent English. He wanted to know everything about
us and was totally amazed that we had only been there three days and were interested in finding a church. This man (his Korean name translates to David) had been a missionary in the Philipines for 18 years and was pretty much fluent in both English and Filipino, as well as Korean. He to
ld us all about the church, told us he would love for us to attend their church and informed us that we are the only foreigners to have ever visited! We went upstairs for their 3 pm church service and were amazed by the hospitality. They had us stand up at the beginning and the congregation sang a welcoming song to us, complete with hand mo
tions and all! At one point, they waved their hands in our direction to demonstrate them sending blessings and welcomings our way. The assistant pastor gave us ear phones for us to listen while he translated the events of the service. We watched a special kids’ performance and listened to the telling of one of the church missionary’s trip to Ezra, Jordan. It’s funny…we American
s don’t really think about Christians from other countries (especially Asian countries) being missionaries and going into other lands to share the gospel. I realized how narrow-minded we can be! Our first Korean church experience was so interesting bec
ause neither of us have ever felt SO welcome at any church and only ONE person could speak to us in our language. Hmmm…
So today Austin and I sat down at our kitchen table and really tried hard to learn as much of the Korean language (Hanguel) as we possibly can. We began with learning the alphabet (hanguel characters) and then attempted to learn the words. It is tricky, this language, because it is a double
whammy- first learning a totally new alphabet that looks nothing like ours and then having to learn new words. While reading Hanguel I feel like a first grader sounding out the c
haracters slowly. It taked five minutes to read one sentence and even after that, I still have no idea what it means!
This is what we have learned so far:
Thank You: kam-sa-ham-ni-da
I’m Sorry: choe-song-ham-ni-da
Chicken meat: tak-ko-gi
This is my practice sheet:
Lastly, today we went with our co-teachers into Busan (Pusan, either spelling) to get our Alien Registration Card (ARC). You have to have one of those if you are staying in the country longer than 90 days…and to set up internet, cell phone and a bank account! The ARC card was simple to apply for, but we don’t get it for 10 more days (Bummmmmer). Buuut, after we did that they took us to Hyundae Beach, which is the most famous beach in South Korea. It is on the outskirts of Busan and has tremendous views of the city, Japan Sea and mountains. We walked along a pathway and onto the beach and saw many a grandma doing sit-ups, jogging and stretching! It is amazing how active everyone is here. Hyundae was beautiful and we are planning to go back…the real news from that trip is that we saw: OUTBACK, STARBUCKS, PIZZA HUT & BENNIGANS!!! I thought Austin was going to cry he was SO happy. So it looks like we might be making a quick subway trip to Busan when in need of some back-home-cookin. Busan was definitely refreshing because we saw many foreigners, most of the signs has English translation and the before-mentioned American cuisine….All I want to find now is a yummy salad bar!
Grandpa working out (Note: his wheelchair is next to him. Don't worry, he only needs that to get around.)
For now, An-nyong-hi-kye-se-yo!
Posted by Lauren at 6:36 PM
What to even say about all that happened within our last three-ish days being here in South Korea..so much!
Posted by Lauren at 1:46 PM
So, for our last month post-Honeymoon and pre-Korea Austin and I have been wonderfully living in my wonderful parents' wonderful condo (did I mention it is really wonderful?) It is, naturally, our first time to live together and we kinda feel like a little family with us and our little Ellie.
Posted by Lauren at 1:44 PM
So we have never blogged before, but with our big adventure to South Korea coming up in less than one month we figured we would get our act together and start this blogging schpiel. We are very excited about moving overseas in only 21 days, (wow!) but we (okay, really just me... I won't include Austin in this) am really getting nervous and scared. I guess it really has to do with just the fact that it is so unknown. We have never traveled abroad nor do we know the language of the country we are about to move to! I know when we get there it will all be awesome, though!
Posted by Lauren at 10:28 AM