Saturday, May 30, 2009

PHEW!!!!!

it has been a couple of weeks since we updated, and for good reason . . .

we've been BUSY!!!!!

there have been various school functions that we have needed to attend, like sports day, also we survived mid-terms, and were a part of one of the biggest festivals in all of korea, the danoje festival. (we have pictures up on our picasa site. if you need the web address let us know)

of course, since this is korea, since there were special events there were the parties afterwards that we had to attend. so all in all a very eventful couple of weeks.

things are going very well. we are so happy and couldnt be better. its officially been 172 days since we have left and it feels like we have been gone FOREVER!!!

its getting to be closer to feeling like spring all the time so we are trying to get out as much as possible and enjoy the weather.

a quick note on the rumblings from our neighbors . . .

tova and i are totally safe. we are not worried, and neither are the people in our city. if something does happen we are going to be totally safe. we have taken a couple of precautions just in case, but we arent really worried.

well, thats all for this post. we are going to run out and play some frisbee football by a rock that looks like a tiger :-)

talk to you all later

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Teachers' Hike Day

I had a BLAST on Wednesday the 13th. I took a one and a half hour bus ride to a town seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. The teachers and I (it was a "voluntary" teacher party day) had boiled chicken and various side dishes for lunch, then took a huge hike in the mountains. We hiked for an hour or two, then took the looooooooooooong bus ride back to Sokcho for some duck for dinner. (Unfortunately, not pumpkin duck, which has quickly become my favorite!) It was an amazing day, and I had such a great time. I just continue to be amazed and blessed...
Me, my coteacher BoRam, and Mr. Kim. I could write all day about the amazingness that was hike day, but I won't. You're welcome. :-)
video
This was taken at a temple near the top of the mountain. You can hear a monk in the background. You'll also see Mr. Kim in his element - explaining the history to other teachers. And you'll see BoRam fiddling with her camera. Fun times!!! :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sports Day!

Daniel and I had the distinct honor of participating in a local sports day for high school teachers on Thursday, May 7th. Think field day for grownups.
(this is daniel: i asked my co-teacher why they had a sports day and his answer was "for teachers to say 'my schools better than your school' " gotta love it, now back to tova :-p )
We had four events - volleyball, three-legged race, tug-of-war, and jumping rope.
My school won. :-)

Here are some pictures:

The raffle prizes. Included -- bicycles, rice, toilet paper, soap, sunscreen, and coffee.

One of the opposing teams -- Sokcho Boys' High School. We beat them, by the way. Do you see Daniel?

My school playing volleyball. I was a key player in this event. Do you see me? I'm in the back, in a red shirt. Close to the guy dressed head to toe in red.

Yup. I was there. And apparantley yelling a lot???


Daniel's school getting trounced in the three-legged race. Do you see Daniel?



VERY nervous before the tug-of-war. I'm next to my coteacher--she's the one with the white striped shirt and red headband. She's so sweet!


So then, I was cheesin' at the camera when THE TUG-OF-WAR STARTED!!! My coteacher had also been cheesin', which is why she's falling over. There wasn't any reason to be nervous after all -- my school won this too. ;-)


Daniel getting suited up for his school's turn at tug-of-war. Did I mention they lost? ;-)


You can't blame Daniel for his school's loss though. He gave it a valiant effort!!!


Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the jump rope contest. They put 15-20 teachers in at one time. It was hilarious. My school won that too. :-)
Korea is hilarious and amazing. After sports day, we went out with our respective schools, then met back up later. Fun! :-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Things I miss from the States...

I have officially fallen in love with Korea. I've pretty much always enjoyed it (except for the homesickness hiccups!), but it has developed into full-blown love.
However, I do miss the States! There are some things I miss more than others... Here is a short list:

1) Being able to find the same items in the same places in stores from week to week. Here, you never know if what you see on the shelves will be there next week. It's always a gamble!


2) Little Lehn**** Feet... There's this family in Wisconsin who absolutely stole my heart... I taught the older child a few years ago, and fell madly in love with the family. My favorite days at school were days when I would hear these two amazing children running down the hall, giggling uncontrollably, then stoping in their tracks in the hall when I would announce, "I hear little Lehn**** feet!!" Then, after a minute of laughter, they would burst through my door... I think, the "bigger picture" thing I miss is being able to make such strong bonds with people. People here are so welcoming, friendly, and loving... But there's always that little missing part. There's always a little distance -- because I don't speak the language, because I'm from a different culture, or whatever the thing is...


3) As always, food. I think of the average fare in Korea, and my mind just can't comprehend that this is what they've always had... I used to eat in the cafeteria, but I just wasn't eating enough. I think about the fish -- scales, eyes, fins, bones, and all -- and I try to imagine feeling the same way about that as I do about, for example, hamburgers off the grill. Or I think about kimchi and try to imagine feeling the same way as I would about a baked potato. It's just hard to imagine how homesick a Korean would feel in America, looking at the food that I miss so much!


4) Being able to understand the "minor details" of life... I would LOVE to understand what makes the mind of a Korean tick. Why do they value some things so much (for example, the ability - or lack thereof - to hold gigantic quantities of liquor is one of the first things you learn when you meet someone new... i.e. -- "This is Lee Tae Yong. He can drink SO MUCH! He's a teacher at __.") and why other things don't seem to make a difference at all.


5) Knowing the common language of the country in which I live! I cannot begin to describe how dramatic an impact my time in Korea has had on my opinions about people in America who are from other countries / cultures. I've always had a respect for people who have immigrated to America and are trying to make a life for themselves / their families in a strange place. But now, I UNDERSTAND what they're feeling -- it's such a ridiculously helpless feeling. And it's sooooo difficult to learn a new language!!!


6) CHURCH! Oh, how I miss church. I miss being an active member -- volunteering, spending time at church, being a part of church! I miss the sense of community and the friendships formed in church. I miss building others up and being built up. I miss it soooooooo much.


7) Independence. Yes, you can certainly be independent in another country. There are so many foreigners here who are totally independent. I feel pretty lost a lot of the time in Korea. I've gotten my town down, and I feel pretty comfortable with that. However, getting places that are far away can be difficult -- if it's a rainy day, getting a taxi is very hard!


8) Predictability. This may be a Korea-specific thing, but it's definitely been one of the more difficult things to get used to. There will, seemingly randomly, be days where you'll show up for work, only to be told, "Yeah, there aren't any classes today." Or there'll be days where you think there are no classes, and are told, "You need to be in class now!" Many days, I've been told that there's a party that night, and my whole night's plans will have to be chucked out the window. Often, there's no advance warning for ANYTHING. This experience has DEFINITELY taught me to roll with the punches!!

9) Family and friends. 'Nuff said!


10) CHAIRS IN RESTAURANTS. I am, by nature, a floor-sitter. I love sitting on the floor -- always have, always will. However, there's something about sitting on the floor (no cushions / padding / etc) in one tiny confined space without the ability to move your legs for literally hours at a time. It gets achy and uncomfortable after a while.


Daniel and I have now been in Korea for about five months. I am still 100% certain that this was an excellent decision. I will be thrilled to go home, but I'm glad to enjoy my time while I'm here. I love Korea!

Monday, May 4, 2009

alligators . . .

i miss alligators . . .
not those! or these kind either:

alligators = florida
florida = some kind of normalcy
i miss alligators :-/
i am not getting truly home sick, i am still having the time of my life, and i am happy.
i just miss some knd of normalcy.
after 5 months of being barraged with EVERYTHING from EVERY ANGLE being so foreign and so different, it would be nice for a little bit of normalcy.
i guess i have been able to make the apartment and things like that "normal" but still, i would LOVE to have one day where i dont feel like a complete foreigner.

another reason why i am feeling this way is that i have been sick for a solid week, and its just getting old :-p
tomorrow i have the day off. maybe being cocooned in the apartment with tova will charge up by batteries a lil and make me feel like i dont miss the aligators as much :-p