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.

First off, two other couples and us have started taking Taekwondo. Taekwondo originates in Korea and many of our students have been taking it from an early age and could for sure kick our butts. We take Taekwondo 3 times a week (as well as having Korean class 1 night a week) so our week nights remain full and active. I think that that will help our weeks fly by pretty fast! Taekwondo is awesome, but sometimes I wonder if, in fact, we are really in a boot camp. Our Taekwondo Master works us out pretty hard. The 1st 20-ish minutes of class is INTENSE stretching and there have been many times when I sit cringing waiting for Austin's body to pop loudly or just break in half. Our 2 instructors laugh often at my not-so-flexible husband and are desperately trying to make him as limber as can be....baby steps, baby steps! The next bit of class is usually hard core work outs, anything from various crunches to sprints to partner wheelbarrow! Hah, that one was fun. The last third-ish of class is actually learning the punches and kicks and practicing our loud grunts every time we strike a pose. I would say, Taekwondo makes you feel like you are ready to go kick some serious butt and take on the World. We will let you know if that happens :)

Thanksgiving-Korea Style was spent at the Seaman's Club, a restaurant right on the water by the port of Busan that caters to the US Navy. When we pulled up to the restaurant I was actually informed that we were technically on US territory and it kinda gave me warm fuzzies inside. We had a Thanksgiving Buffet full of turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, salad and apple and pumpkin pie! It was surprisingly really good and for sure hit the spot after 3 months of Korean food. We celebrated the fact that there was NO Kimchi at all on the buffet and would have gotten mad and protective of our holiday food if there were! We were with one Korean lady and she was like, "Where's the Kimchi? I need Kimchi!" and we all just laughed. Koreans eat Kimchi at every meal and are taught from an early age that it is one of the healthiest things that they can consume...in actuality, it's sick and tastes like sour trash. For the non-Kimchi connoisseurs, the dish is fermented cabbage or radishes seasoned with onions, garlic, horseradish, red peppers and ginger. In general, Thanksgiving was yummy and fun but it definitely made us miss home knowing that our families were celebrating it together in either New Orleans or the Schauers' South Texas deer lease.

This past weekend was our friend Mara's Birthday celebration! Her Birthday was on Thanksgiving Day so her boyfriend, Drew, decided to surprise her with one of her good college friends coming in from another Korean city (Daejeon) and a bunch of people meeting at a bar to give her a quasi-surprise Birthday Party. We had a great celebration full of Long Life Bar (with its neon lights, drink coolers and sporadic techno-esque musical light show), another random bar and an end-of-the-night commencement at a Noraebang. A Noraebang is a modern must-do in Korea that entails a bunch of friends going into one room that has couches, disco balls, tambourines and a Karaoke system and singing their hearts out to whatever song they want to. The hits of last night were: Baby Got Back, Layla, Get'n Jiggy With It, Since You Been Gone, Wonderwall and many others. For some of us it was our first Noraebang experience, but we enjoyed it so much there are sure to be many others.

We are looking forward to our Winter Break starting December 22nd where we will have about 5 weeks off! My parents (Lauren's) are planning on visiting at the end of January and we are going to travel to Thailand with them.


Pepero Day

celebrating Pepero Day- the mature way

So on the glorious day of November 11'th in Korea the natives celebrate "Pepero Day," which is a Valentines-like celebratory day. Here is the description by Wikipedia (don't we all love good 'ol Wikipedia?)

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.[3][4] 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.[2] 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".[5]

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!!

more Pepero fun

our many Pepero presents...such a cash cow for the Lotte company that sells these yummy sticks.

And just to keep you on the edge of your seat, Austin and I (as well as 4 of our other friends) begin taking Taekwondo classes this Monday!!! Woooooo. Yes, that's right. We are turning Korean. Everyone has told us that if you are in Korea, you MUST take Taekwondo so we will update more (with photographic evidence) when the time comes.

Until next time, stay classy US of A


Korean Quarks

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.


Namhae, Schnamhae

Hey friends and family, we hope each of you are doing so well and enjoying the growing excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas in the oh-so-wonderful US culture! We are really starting to feel the sadness of being in Korea over American Thanksgiving and Christmas...that was probably ushered in with the missing of my cousin, Meredith's, wedding and my Granddaddy's 90th birthday party. Signing up to spend a year in a foreign country, however, guarantees that things will be missed back home, but plenty of new memories will be made.

Speaking of which...

Austin and I had the brilliant plan to have a relaxing, peaceful weekend in the small island town of Namhae. It is southwest from where we are now in Yangsan and is connected to the mainland by a really sweet bridge. We took a bus from Busan to Namhae on Friday night and then a taxi to Sangju beach (which is one of their top things to see on the Namhae website!). We unloaded ourselves from the taxi, took several looks around and realized that we were not on a hoppin' beach but rather in a depressing ghost town. There were several motels that we spotted, but only one with the lights on and any sign of human life in it. We were starved so tried also to find a restaurant to grab a quick dinner only to realize only one restaurant was open. Their specialty, you ask? Raw fish. yum. We talked them into giving us Ramyeon (Korean version of our cheap Ramen noodles...they are cheap here as well and pretty much bear the same stigma) and the owners showed us upstairs to their discrete motel that was actually rather nice. We enjoyed being able to lay in bed and watch tv (the only English was sports, which we were totally game for) since our apartment does not have cable set up. Our land-lord told us that we could not set up cable television unless we could promise to keep this lease for 3 years -- sorry, bucko...no TV in our apartment it is. And for what it's worth for Namhae, I'm sure you are wonderful and quite fun in the summer, oh Namhae.

Austin and I woke up the next day optimistically thinking that the experience the previous night of Ghost Town, South Korea was just an illusion and that in the morning there would be more activity. After walking around the beach and surrounding beach area and seeing appx. 10 people Austin made the executive decision to grab our things and return home. For those questioning our judgment and thinking that we are sissies, you're probably right. At the moment of depression we didn't care, though. I mean, 10 people in a whole village, really!?!? So we tucked our tail between our legs, boarded the bus back to Busan and smiled as we entered back into our gigantic city :)

Saturday night Austin and I had the perfect "us" night by going to a yummy Western restaurant (Book&Beer) and shared skewers of peppers, onions, shrimp, salmon, etc. We then did what we do best: coffee shop it up and enjoy the relaxingness of sipping a latte and reading.

On a super positive note, because of our earlier-than-expected arrival back into Yangsan, we got to go with our good friends Paul, Bertha and baby Sonya to a great English-speaking church in Busan. It is called Antioch International Ministry (AIM) and has English-speaking Christians from all over the globe...America, Korea, Philippines, Africa, Japan, etc. The church also holds a Chinese and Japanese service at the same time as the English service but in a different part of the building. It was so refreshing for us to be able to worship and be in a community of believers that we can understand and fellowship with. Thank you, God, for that blessing. AIM is about an hour away from Yangsan, but way worth the travel to get to be with other believers.

That's all for our at-times-dismal and sporadic but fun weekend.

For those who have not received it yet and were wanting our address here:
Austin and Lauren Schauer
Gyeongsangnam-do, Yangsan City, Mulgeum-eub, Beom-eo Li,
Namyangsan Heights Vill #404, South Korea, 626-814