Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stealing Daniel's Idea...

So, I'm going to steal Daniel's idea about getting used to things. The following is a list that reflects what I think are the hardest parts of getting used to life in Korea. :-)

If you are going to live in Korea, you must get used to:

1. Children staring at you and backing away slowly, never taking their eyes off you. Some children (and older people) really want to talk to you, and will come up and say hi and smile. Most of the time, they just stare at you. It's interesting, to say the least.

2. Following arrows blindly. It is definitely my goal to eventually be able to speak / read very basic Korean (I am realistic), but right now, I have no clue what's going on. If you see an arrow, it's usually best to follow it, regardless of where it's going.

3. The food! It's delicious and wonderful, but definitely WAY different than any food I'm used to. Our town is on the East Sea, so there is seafood / seaweed in almost every dish. The Lunar New Year soup had plenty of seaweed! :-)

4. You walk. Everywhere. And by that I mean EVERYWHERE.

5. Rice. Lots and lots of rice. I guess this kind of goes along with the food one, but in my mind, it's separate!

There are so many more things, but these are the basics.

Have a great day!! :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"getting used to"

its been a long time, this whole blogging thing has taken a back seat, sorry . . .

this past week was the last week of schooling for tova and I before our winter break so we were busy getting everything ready to go so we could enjoy our vacation as much as possible.
things have been going very well for us. we are pretty surprised as to how much we are enjoying it, and how little homesickness is hitting. it helps that we have pretty awesome friends here in sokcho, and that we have each other to have some company.

we have gotten in to a little routine and that makes us happy to a certain extent. we are trying to get out and hang out, but balancing that with trying to save money is pretty difficult :-(

i was talking to my brother yesterday and he asked if i was "used to living here" it got me thinking that it is very interesting what the term "getting used to" means now. living in another country makes "getting used to" a very interesting term.

we HAVE gotten used to living here. our co-teachers are phenomenal! we could not have been paired with people who could have been better. they have made our transition here as easy as possible. we have found a lot of food in our grocery store that we like, and we are getting used to the food at restaurants (personal note: the redder the dish, soup, or sauce, the hotter it is. this was a great point made by my co-teacher and its helped me a lot!) we have gotten used to withdrawing 50,000 won, and paying bills of around 360,000 won. it seems like a lot, but with the exchange rate being around 1350 to 1, its more like 37 bucks, and 266 bucks, but still seeing a bill with lots of zeroes is rather disheartening at the very least!
then there are aspects of living in another culture that you "get used to" since you are in a different culture but i might never find "normal" just cause its so out of my realm of understanding.

for instance:

these are dried fish/squid on a clothes line. its a normal sight here. there are probably 10 balconies in our building alone that have fish of some sort hanging from the railings or baskets and drying in the wind. we used to walk by them and stare, now we are "used to it"

also this:

you can buy a drumstick in the grocery store packaged just like this in the fridge section. it looks raw, but i saw a wrapper right outside the store, so i guess you eat it cold, and its cooked. again, we are now "used to" seeing these things in the stores.

and then my personal dangerously favorite picture:

this was taken outside a hagwon, which is a private school. there is a slide directly out the second story window. no railings in the sides, and pretty steep. we would NEVER see this in the states, and yet now we are "used to" it.

we have also gotten used to turning on the hot water before showers and washing dishes (we dont have any unless we turn it on), we are used to eating while sitting on the floor at restaurants, used to seeing korean commercials (who knew that if you smash your finger with a hammer all you need to do is drink oj and its ok, or that they use a talking radish who is losing his "hair" to sell payday loans!) and we are used to drying our clothes on drying racks rather then throwing them in a dryer.

so yes, we have gotten used to it. the one thing that i dont think we will ever get "used to" is the beautiful scenery in sokcho. we have the mountains to the west of us, the east sea to the . . . drum roll please . . . the east of us! and there is a very large beautiful lake not to far from us as well. every day i wake up and look out our apartment windows at the mountains, lake and sea (all visible from the same window in our apt!) and just cant stop thinking that "we live here" and being so grateful for the opportunity to experience a foreign land, grateful for everything that South Korea has to offer, and grateful to God that even through all of this I still see him in the everyday things and He has shown Himself True even thousands of miles away from home and the comfort that Someone is looking out for us.

We are now on vacation so we will be updating frequently and uploading many pics over the following weeks on our walking tours of sokcho, hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's been a long time!

I'm so sorry I'm a blogging slacker. I so appreciate you guys for keeping up with our adventures in South Korea. It's so much fun for Daniel and me to share everything with y'all. :-) Basically, Daniel and I have been having a blast in Korea. We're meeting lots of nice people and exploring our city. There's so much to do here! Teaching is amazing. Daniel got the sweet deal -- he teaches the teachers for an hour a day and teaches the students every now and then (a total of ten hours teaching (five lessons done twice) for the entire month! I got a more difficult assignment -- I teach the teachers for an hour a day and teach high school seniors for two hours a day. My day is pretty much working in the office from 9-1:40, with an hour lunch break in there, then teaching from 1:50 to 5. It's busy, but lots of fun! :-)

I think I'm becoming a more adventurous person in Korea. I bought a hat last night that I think is very awesome. It's a little funky / strange looking, and maybe I look like a nerd in it, but I love it. I have become a little more outgoing, which has been fun. I have eaten foods I would NEVER have tried in the States, and I've loved it!! :-)

All in all, I'm so glad Daniel and I came to Korea. I'm growing and learning every single day. I think that anyone who is given this kind of opportunity should absolutely jump at the chance.

I think y'all should come visit us, too. It's awesome here. :-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


normally on saturdays and sundays tova and i take looooong walks (minimum 4 miles) around our city and take many many pictures. unfortunately we havent had time to put up all the pictures on our picasa site (if you want the links to check them out just send us a note) so here are some of the best pictures that are, as of yet, unavailable.
this is probably my favorite picture that we have taken. it is on top of Beombawi. Beombawi is a very famous rock by the lake that locals say looks like a tiger lying down. from the top of the rocks you have a great view of the mountains . . .
the characters (i've been told) are chinese characters. i dont know how old they are or what it says, but its pretty darn cool!
this next picture was taken not too long after our HUGE snowstorm (i say blizzard and people laugh :-( ) but it was a blizzard!

the picture was taken just a short walk behind our apartment. the views are amazing here.

this next picture was taken by my school. they still use these carts to move things around the city.

closer to our apartment when you walk towards the main road the mountains really come in to view

in the morning since the mountains face east, the sun really highlights the mountains and makes them look wonderful!

by our apartment is a wonderfully beautiful lake as well as the mountains. around the lake many people walk to work out. this statue is one of many monuments around the lake.

and lastly, we were walking towards my school and looked down a street and there was the EAST SEA!!! we knew we were close, but we didnt realize how close we were, so we decided to take a detour

we were lucky to have someone ask us if they wanted them to take a picture of us, so here we are by the east sea. we are loving all our adventures here, and will put up more pictures when we have time (its laborious work!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Decision Making

So, some of you have asked questions about what it's like to get around and get what you need in a place where you don't speak the language.
I am going to unlock the secrets to decision-making TODAY.
I will use a specific example. The other day, we went to our local grocery store to purchase groceries and some needed household items.
One thing on our list was "all-purpose cleaner".
We thought that would be easy. However, pictures and lots of writing in Korean aren't always as specific as you'd like, making it difficult to differentiate between a potential all-purpose cleaner and, say, bleach. Getting the wrong thing is potentially VERY bad!!
So, we were perusing the various bottles when we stumbled upon a stroke of genius!! This epiphany just came upon us unexpectedly.
This is our current all-purpose cleaner:

How did we choose this particular cleaner? It's simple, my friends. Look how excited and happy the gentleman on the front is!!! If he's happy, of course we will be!!

That, my friends, is how you find what you need in a foreign country. That is your lesson for the day on how to live sucessfully in Korea.

random thoughts

too many serious thoughts going on in my head
(i will update later)
so i decided to stick with a top ten list of random things that are different in korea:
(there are plenty more and will probably be a recurring theme throughout our stay here)
10: if a cabbie waves at you it doesn’t mean that he will pick you up, it means that he is leaving you in the dust

9: when a dog barks in the stairway at our apartment it sounds like a woman is being brutally beaten (its all concrete, straight 16 stories up, open staircase right out our front door, the sound just bounces around like crazy!)

8: when we turn on our lights its like a light switch rave, the lights flicker for a while then turn on
7: we live on the 15th floor and PRAY that the elevator doesn’t break and make us walk up 15 flights of stairs! But, less than a week into it, we had to walk all the way up. Not cool! Someone apparently moved and overloaded the elevator. Since it was overloaded they had to reprogram it.

6: they only use really short brooms here. I don’t know why, but they do

5: there is a man in our grocery store who gets on a microphone and tries to sell you the “blue light special” produce product of the day (or that’s what we think he is doing)

4: all 4 shopping cart wheels pivot, which makes for awesome maneuverability, something that should be adopted in the states right now!

3: pool is very very different here in south korea. The pool table looks regulation with one glaring detail missing: there are NO POCKETS!!! Also they use 3 balls. The rules involve hitting one ball then making sure the other ball gets hit as well, but we don’t know the exact details. It is a lot harder then it looks.

2: Duracell uses a bunny in its ads, when everyone knows it’s the energizer bunny, can they do that legally?

1: pizza is WEIRD. So weird that dominos is “creative dominos”. i.e. for a pepperoni pizza you need to specify “no corn” on your pizza, you can get all kinds of seafood and veggies on your pizza and when you order a pizza you WILL get sweet pickles in containers that look like this:

if you look closely enough you can see the words "sweet pickles" :-p

have a great day!!!!!!