Thursday, September 2, 2010

My first Korean meal, and other things.

It seems as though I have an aversion to sleeping past 6 in Korea, and that's why you're getting so many blog posts. That and the fact that I find much of what happens to me to be hysterical, so I write it all down. If you're bored, I apologize. But seriously, just don't click the link next time! :)

Yesterday morning, I got lost on the way to work. Yep, it was my third day making the journey, but for some reason, I entirely forgot how to get there. I popped out next to the Woori Bank, which is how I get to Kyobo (I just realized how ridiculous all this must sound), and even though it's a little far, I know how to get to work from Kyobo. Today I'll have to make sure to leave earlier. Apparently the magical sense of direction that helped me find Jubilee has worn off, and I'm left with my standard sense of direction that used to get me lost in my own parking lot.

When I got to work, I found out that the kids would be late because the storm I heard the night before was actually a typhoon. A typhoon! I googled it, and found out that the biggest tropical storm to hit Korea in fifteen years managed to hit during my first week. Now that's a great omen if I've ever heard one! Anyway, so every other kindergarden in Korea was ordered closed due to whether, but Gate decided to be rebels and open anyway. Lucky me :)

Only two of my kids arrived on time, so I let them draw on the board. I was told to just "keep them busy" until all the kids showed up and we could do something productive, so drawing seemed like a grand idea to me. I asked them to draw their families, and they're super smart kids so I know they understood the word. Instead, though, they drew me.

I asked him if I could take a picture, and that's the pose he made. It's just about the cutest thing ever.

I only had two markers for the board, so when a third student arrived, I decided to play hangman. It's actually a really good game, teaching-wise, and it's low-stress for me. I drew the first puzzle on the board, and asked the kids to give me a letter.


Um, that's not a letter, Brian. Try again.

Once they got the hang of the game, they loved it. About three games in, though, one of my little girls asked if we could please do a workbook instead because the game was boring. She WANTED to do workbooks instead of playing games. So strange.

Yesterday my new class orientation was scheduled, so all the mommies came in to hear about my teaching strategies. I tried to stay away from "Yes, I'm your child's teacher, and I got lost on my way to work today", so it all went pretty well. Little sidenote: all parents are called mommies and daddies here. Not mothers and fathers or moms and dads - mommies and daddies. It's cute, but I feel so incredibly silly referring to my students' parents as "Evelyn's mommy." Anyway... orientation went well. Only two of the mommies could understand English, so I spent forty-five minutes talking to a room of women who pretty much had no idea what I was saying. On top of that, I was horribly distracted by the fact that one of the mommies in the front row was wearing a t-shirt that said "save water, shower with a friend!"

After work yesterday, Hana took me to the Korean equivalent of a dollar store to get supplies for my apartment. Kat came with us, which turned out to be a blessing because I kind of forgot to bring money. On the way there, we decided that our goal was to purchase a one-dollar man (I cannot for the life of me remember how we got on that), and I quite enjoy the fact that we can practically shout about how men are worthless and no one even looks at us because hardly anyone can understand what we're saying. It's amazingly fun to be so anonymous. The dollar store was huge! Hana led me upstairs and started picking out things I needed. I got a variety of cleaners, dishes, and towels... and this trash can:

In case you're having trouble, that says "you have to get ready all the times to get her love" and has a picture of a girl following apples into a tree where a boy is hiding.

After the dollar store excursion, I met up with my friend Heather from Jubilee. She teaches in a very small school and doesn't know a lot of foreign teachers, so she had a blast pointing things out to me. The absolute biggest disappointment of my night was that I forgot my camera. We chose a restaurant (okay, Heather chose a restaurant), and we went inside. We were the only foreigners in the building, which was so much fun, and the waiter brought us a free coke. At least, we assumed it was free seeing as we didn't order it and it just appeared on our table. I'm going to attempt to explain the food, but I really wish I had pictures.

The main dish was pork, and it was essentially really thick bacon. We cooked it right at the table, which was hilarious to me. Around the pork, we were given what felt like a million side dishes - boiled scrambled eggs, three kinds of kimchi, a super-spicy tofu soup, and these little sheets of radish paper that tasted like cole slaw. When the bacon-ish was cooked, Heather taught me how to eat it. We wrapped a piece of meat inside a piece of lettuce, along with other toppings from the table. I was under the impression that I'd be eating this like a tiny taco, so I filled it up with things. I looked across the table to take Heather's cues, and she had rolled hers into a little ball and popped it in her mouth. Uh-oh. Mine was HUGE. Instead of unloading part of it, I just stuffed the entire thing in my mouth and we both started cracking up. I failed similarly when attempting to eat with chopsticks; at school, they are my only option, but it's pretty easy to scoop rice up, so I haven't had much trouble. It's a whole different story when you're trying to manipulate meat into different kinds of sauces. I'm pretty sure I dropped everything I picked up, and we laughed every single time. Heather was quite enjoying being the sophisticated, experienced one; since she mostly hangs out with Koreans, she's the one who's always committing an array of faux pas.

We intended to go to a Walmart-esque store, but we ended up talking far too long and it started to get late. We walked back to my apartment, and she explained some things in the convenience store on the way so I'd be able to hopefully make successful purchases in the future. Heather is an incredibly valuable new friend to have since she speaks a decent amount of Korean, and she's also really fun. She's only here until Christmastime, though, and that's a terrible shame. I knew that'd be the case; people will come and go the whole time I'm here, but it's sad to think this new friend I made is only around the next few months. That's going to be really hard to get used to.

On a more personal note, I think I'm adjusting pretty well, but I'm startled to find that homesickness hits at random times and in powerful ways. I think it's a little bit related to the jet lag; I start to crash around 1 in the afternoon, and that's when I get horribly depressed. It positively brings me to tears to think that no one in America will ever see my apartment, and that everyone I care about will hear my stories by reading them on this blog. I know it's the most efficient way of communicating; there are far more people reading this than I expected would be interested, so it'd be impossible to call each of you on skype and tell you the stories individually. But it's really hard to have to type out everything and just send it off, not actually getting to hear people laugh at the hilarious things that happen to me or see people smile when I try to pronounce Korean words. I know you're having fun reading my adventures, and that's the point of the blog, but just know that it's a lot harder on me than I'm making it sound. It's painfully lonely sometimes (like right now) and I just wish I had someone with me to lean on. I enjoy the new friends I'm making so very much, but they're not the same as having someone who knows me here. Please keep commenting on the blog - I reread the comments until I pretty much have them memorized just so I can remind myself that people out there are listening and love me. It's really great here, but really hard. Please pray for me :) I love you all!


  1. Love language twin. I imagine myself crawling in bed with you to cuddle and you telling me all of these fantastic stories. I wish I could do that, and then we could laugh and sing and watch a disney movie. Keep writing :)

  2. Hi Nikki! Just wanted you to know I have read all of your posts and I am very much enjoying reading them. Thanks for posting them.:) I miss you very much, but I admire you to step out on this adventure. Please know you are and continue to be in my thoughts in prayers. Love you! Big Hug!!!

  3. Hi Nikki it's Rachel who works with your mom. I love reading your blog!! You are an amazing person and you are living an awesome life right now. I admire you for being able to make such a huge move. You are in my prayers. Keep up the post. And your mommy misses you very much and she is VERY proud of you. Stay strong.

  4. Know that I look forward to every evening having a story/ adventure to read while I am eating dinner. And I want your trashcan. It is too cute.

    Another funny story from me.... I have a student named Stefan that likes to meditate after doing his classwork. Feet up on chair, eyes closed and hands in the meditating state. :)


  5. Please send that little boy to me. I want to keep him forever. kthanks.

  6. Hey!! I love reading about your adventures! Teaching there sounds like quite the challenge. It really sounds like you're doing an awesome job. Nathan and I are praying for you!

  7. I'm intrigued about the Korean Walmart. :)

    I went to South Korea in July 2007 and we lived through typhoon like weather while there. It was insane!

    You should go to the beach!

  8. KOREA!

    Can I write that every time I comment on your blog cause I want to and have been doing it anyway with out your consent. Please bring me home Brian, your student. Also I love his picture of you! Ok I love you!

    Save water!

  9. We're still following you on here, Nitty!
    B said that Dylan Rape wants you to bring home the little boy... apparently he reads your blog too. :P
    We're always here to chat and skype! Just remember, there's a cute lil boy waiting for his "BA Aunt from Korea" to come home... hehe :)

  10. I LOVE reading your blog!!!!! It keeps taking me back to our amazing "date" night over Indian food where we laughed for hours. Seriously hilarious. Keep up the adventures because I look forward to reading them: ) they make me giggle throughout my work day! ROCK ON soul sista!

  11. Hahaha, the pork stuff is called: SUM-GYUP-SAO (phonetically)! I miss that stuff! Korean BBQ - SO delish. Find a HAN'S DELI (its a chain). Got and get Omurice :) You love Kyobo yet??

  12. "Pillow!"
    Ha I love it!! :)

    I also love hearing all your fun adventures so keep the updates coming!!

  13. Hey Nikki! Holy half way around the world! I think that it is awesome God has given you the opportunity to teach in another country! I can not imagine the adjustments you are having to make in strange place but know that God would not put you through something he knows you can not handle. Enjoy your time there because it will be over before you know it!

    On a side note, I just started reading your blog Wednesday and you were in my dream last night. I do not remember what the dream was about nor where it took place but I do remember you ran up to me and gave me a big hug. I was very surprised saying, "Nikki! I thought you were supposed to be in Korea! How did you get here?" A short conversation followed that I could not comprehend and then I woke up confused as to what my location was. Odd, I know!

    Anywho, I hope you have a blast and God continues to bless you with amazing opportunities! I look forward to reading about your interesting Korean adventures!

  14. White child,

    I WANT the shirt Brian is wearing! Can you take it from him and give it to me? I also NEED the shirt the mom was wearing. Please get take that one from her and give it to me also.


  15. also...i would agree that the jet lag is bringing on some of the severe depression moments you are having.

  16. P.S. PLEASE tell me you introduced yourself to the parents using the book i got you

  17. Hi,
    You don't know me, but Debbie Brown is a very close friend of mine and I've heard bits and pieces of your adventure since before you left. (Was keeping you in my thoughts for that long plane ride!). I'm so proud of you (might seem strange since I don't know you--), because it is hard to imagine how brave one has to be to embark on this magnitude of a journey.
    The comments about your homesickness brought a huge lump to my throat and tears to my eyes (ask Debbie...I'm a big crier)...this experience will make you so strong in so many ways and I hope the lonely times don't last for very long. If they aren't going away fast enough, then maybe post some more on here?! I am loving reading it and imagining your adventure. Hope you don't mind someone else peering in to your life there...(I'm still trying to recover from the shower post!---And I wonder, if the mom that wore that shirt about water conservation has a shower like yours!!!).
    Best, Sue Miller

  18. I enjoy reading your blog as well! Hang in there girl! YOU have many people back here praying for ya and who love ya bunches!! You are on a great adventure and I am proud of you for going out like this all by yourself and doing it!! You are living a dream you know? Not a ton of people would just uproot by themselves and go somwhere far away, let alone Korea! WOW!! Keep the blogs a'comin!

  19. I love reading your blogs nikki! Im praying for you and for you to have a great time in korea!!
    - maigan

  20. Lady,

    I'm SO happy to finally be reading your writing again. (Yes, I just read that sentence back to myself. And no, I cannot find a way to make it sound better.) I'm having a blast picturing you in all of these ridiculous situations--and I'm completely torn between wanting to laugh at them and being seriously impressed by how well you're managing everything!

    Can't wait to read the rest :)

    Also: Looks like your Korean students and my American speech/language patients make the same English errors. I find this amusing.

    Love love love,