She Bangs! She Bangs!

With any luck, I got that Ricky Martin song stuck in your head.  😛

In this entry I’m going to focus on the bangs ( 방) or rooms, in Korea.
Bang (not pronounced like it is in English–the b is a slight mix of the b and p sounds and the a is pronounced like “ah”)
Anyway, there are a few different varieties here:
PC bangs: (computer rooms–basically where all the gamers go–but a giant computer lounge where you pay for internet access by the hour–really nice computers too.  I used these when I first got here and didn’t have my internet set up yet.

Noraebang:  (Pronounced “Nor-a-bang”)–Karaoke rooms!  I’m completely dumbfounded as to why these aren’t in the US yet.
It’s a private room that you can pay for and you can have a karaoke party with your friends.  (Mostly done after you finish up at the bars, but can definitely be done at other times too).  Comes with two microphones, a giant flat screen tv, 2 giant song books (English and Korean song choices), wrap-around couches…and you can bring alcohol into the rooms.  (Alcohol is a very big part of the culture here so it’d be really strange for it not to be allowed…but that’s beside the point.)
You walk into a noraebang, pay at the counter and escorts you to your private karaoke room.
Personally, I don’t really do karaoke in bars or in that sort of scene because I don’t want to sing in front of all those people, but this is really cool. Sing until your heart’s content…judgement free!  (hopefully :-P)

Jimjilbang:  a Korean public sauna/bathhouse.  They’re really popular over here (uh…planning on trying it out for the first time later this week)…just the one catch:  you’re naked.  Ya.  Naked.
There are a bunch of them all over, but I haven’t gotten the courage to go yet…I just want to try it at least once before I leave.
There are mixed parts of the bathhouse where (you’re fully clothed here) you can relax or get a massage (apparently these are not the same as the ones you’d expect back home.  a bit rougher, I believe.)
But in the actual saunas, there are a bunch of different rooms to choose from, varying in heat and types of saunas themselves.
I’ll be able to update more on this after I go.
It’s supposed to be a really relaxing thing (aside from the Koreans staring at you because of your foreigner body (ha) and a great way to detox your body).  Plus, it’s not something you can find in most places.

Also, you’re able to spend the night there too!  It’s a cheap option (cheaper than a hostel) and I’ve heard of people doing it at the airport (I think there’s one in the Seoul-Incheon airport) if they have an early flight the next morning.
The whole thing can range from $4-10!!  Closer to 10 if you stay the night!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jjimjilbang

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1KJfTwj2lU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvJWdK6DOn0&feature=plcp

There are a few other types of 방 here (as it means “room”), but I think those are the most common.

Ok, headed to bed!
Happy Thursday!
MUDFEST this weekend!!

Sorry!

Just wanted to make an apology for the lack of posts recently. My TEFL course is due on Thursday (it’s Monday) and I’m working by butt off to get it finished.
I’m re-doing one of the lessons, but otherwise, I’m on Unit 18/20.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but I’m just ready for the course to be over.  I’m ready to have my free time back…

Note:  I’ve been working on this for 7 months as of Thursday.

Note 2:  Nothing super thrilling has been happening recently anyway.  Just the same ol’ thing.  Teach, TEFL, hang out with people, weekend.  Repeat.  🙂
I’ll be sure to check back in once I get this finished.
However!  Not really teaching related, but I’ve been trying to get myself into a routine of eating more fruit (veggies too, slowly…heh.) and working out more….and, well I’ve noticed changes, but a co-worker of mine mentioned to me yesterday that she can see a change.  She said I’m becoming more trim and slender.  YAY!!!
I don’t have a weightloss goal or anything, just trying to be healthier, lose a bit of that lower belly pudge and tone up my thighs.   Overall toning is my goal.
It’s been on the backburner for a bit now though because of the TEFL thing, but I’m still walking a lot and I plan on jumping right back into it when my course is over.  🙂

Tie-Dye Fun!

For art class today, I joined up with the other teacher that teaches art, and we did a whole-kindergarten tie-dye project.
The school provided white t-shirts with the school’s name on the front…and the kids got to have some fun.

I was pretty much the leader/organizer for this particular project because none of the Koreans had done or even knew what tie-dyeing was and the other teacher that taught art hadn’t ever done it herself.

So, armed with my knowledge from when I was 13-14, we managed to get all 20-something kindergartners their very own tie-dyed shirt!
I had them in groups–all the students started in the main room, where they put on their plastic painting sleeves (little plastic sleeves that covered wrist to elbow) and aprons.  They they went into the other room where our other art teacher (another foreign teacher who just so happens to teach art classes, like myself) helped the kids write their names inside the shirts and put rubber bands on them.

She sent them over to me and I supervised the tie-dyeing process.  I had 3 colors for them to use and only had 3 students dyeing at a time.  I had any other students that came into the room sitting in chairs watching.  A bit stressful (ages 3-6) but really fun and I think the kids really enjoyed the process.  Our head Korean teacher also said that she wanted to make one.  (She’s never done tie-dye…it’s not really a thing here…yet.  😉 )
Some of the other Korean teachers helped supervise the kids, and our head Korean teacher was in the room with me, helping replenish dye colors as they were used up.  😀

I wish I could let the kids open the shirts themselves, but we’re off tomorrow (public holiday! yay!), so we’re just going to hand them back on Thursday.  Plus, having 20 something kindergartners undoing their rubberbanded shirts could be an ordeal in itself.  AND, I can try and get them washed/cleaned before handing them back.  That way the kids can wear them on Thursday if they want and not have to worry about colors coming off on their clothes.

AHHH..I’m so excited 😀
I like doing the art classes…and it’s more fun bringing some of our American-style art projects to the school here.  I just love seeing their reactions.  Our head teacher was amazed at some of the projects that we’ve been doing recently…she was even more amazed that I remembered doing them from kindergarten and elementary school myself.
Side note–Not sure if I mentioned it before or not, but prior to all these art projects, our kids were doing art books that were at about the 5th grade level.  Each one was centered on a famous artist from the past and they had to ‘re-create” famous pieces.  Um.  These kids are really young..some can’t even color inside the lines…much less doing projects like that.

Anyway, extremely happy that our head teacher let us have a go at making up some of the art lessons ourselves and that we’re away from the books now.
She gave us a trial week a few weeks back (to see what we’d do in class for projects) and now it’s been a few weeks and we have all of June (at least) to do whatever we want in classes.  😀

I’m just really grateful for her allowing us (especially me, since I love the creative artsy/craftsy stuff) the flexibility to try some new stuff. I really think this has brought the life back into the place.  It helps to have stuff to look forward to 🙂

Edit: 6.6.12
Freshly hand-washed tie-dye shirts 😀  Lookin’ good!  (I panicked a bit when the water changed color when I dipped them in the sink…but looks good, I think!)

 

Teenie Tiny Post About Something Awesome

I’ve had a pretty long day today–Full day of classes, but sent in 2 TEFL lessons (13 and 14–of 20) and made pretty great progress on Unit 15.  Hoping my tutor doesn’t send them back to be re-done.  I spent about 3 hours at a cafe near my apartment working on them.  Ugh. (Granted, I was on Facebook and Pinterest a bit too :D)

Anyway–I just wanted to note that the whole stuttering thing is practically nonexistent when I’m teaching.

Yes, you read that right.

I actually kind of forgot about it and then have to remind myself about it.  haha. It’s still there from time to time when I’m talking normally to people—but when I’m teaching…that’s a different story.  I’m not sure where it goes…but I also don’t really care.  Go and don’t ever come back.  ha 🙂
If it does show up (really rare) the kids just assume they’re just supposed to fill in the pause with a word (if I’m reading something to them or whatever).  haha.  Good stuff.  🙂

Anyway, off to bed…exhausted.

Japan in 2 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

//So much for a teenie tiny post 🙂  haha.

P.S.–Like the new layout?  🙂  I think it has a fun POP!

Mini Update

1.  Thanks to both Google Translator and my co-worker (and a good sense of humor on everyone’s part)…I have a phone!!!!
2.  I also have a bank account!!!  Need to work on getting money transferred over (and seeing if my work needs the info for payday)
3.  One of my kindergarteners has started reading 🙂

However…I’m also now sick.  Hence the short update.  I’m headed to bed…sore muscles and a sore throat/swollen glands.
I’ve heard that pretty much every new person that comes over gets a cold or some sort of sickness when they first come over.  It’s to be expected with the new environment and stress apparently.  I felt it come on around 3pm today during my afternoon classes. :-/  Thankfully, no nausea or anything, just feeling really weak and exhausted.
So…off to bed.

I’ll talk more about getting my bank account set up and the stuff about my phone when I don’t feel crappy.

Goooood night.  (at 9pm. lol.)

Running out of titles…bah…

So, I had a pretty good day today.  Teaching is still as exhausting as ever, but after work, I went with another teacher to the stationary (um…pretty much a store dedicated to school supplies) across the street and got some more organization tools.  I’m a pretty organized person, and if I’m not organized, I tend to get more stressed out.
Anyway, my desk at work is currently pretty neat and tidy from the looks of it, but I know once we get more into the school year, it’s going to get a bit more insane.  Hopefully this will help combat that.

I was pretty happy because I felt like I had some good discussions in some classes and also played a flashcard game with my kindergarteners that went over pretty well.
My school is also having the kindergarteners prepare a weekly speech (basically to show the parents (via video footage) what the kids are learning.  Anyway, in my classes, we started the speeches yesterday morning and by the afternoon today, they had them memorized.  I was so proud 😀 😀  haha
It was pretty simple, but keeping in mind that their English is also pretty basic too.  I have 4 in my class and I think only one is pretty solid on her alphabet.
The speeches were:
“Hello!
My name is _____.
I am __ years old.
Thank you!”

haha.  Pretty basic, but they also had to memorize them…and considering that we just started pretty much on Monday, that’s not too shabby.  I’m like a proud mama 🙂  Hopefully they don’t forget them by tomorrow.  I reward them with stickers (they have sticker charts as kindergarteners and sticker books for the elem. kids) or m&ms.  One m&m typically does the trick.


Also, in case anyone from home was thinking about a care package (:-D  doesn’t have to be now…but I made a list anyway.  Whether it’s in October for my birthday or whatever…this is just a little list of what I wouldn’t mind receiving :-P)
*(new) Whole Grain Pasta (ie: spaghetti)–Please?? 🙂 🙂 I know for sure that it’s at Walmart 🙂  Pleasssssse!
*Ginger Snaps (whichever brand my grandma buys from the $1 store) 😀
*Peanut Butter
*Mac and Cheese (spirals :-D)
*Lipton noodles–“butter” or “garlic shells”
*Do-si-do girl scout cookies
*Microwavable deserts (in the baking aisle)—Don’t be mean and send things that require an oven.  lol.  Ovens are extremely rare here.
*Popcorn salt/butter flavor stuff
*Garlic Powder (in the spices aisle)
*Bath and Body Works Stuff 😀  (in plastic bags in case they open)
*more socks 😦

Please and thank you, please and thank you 🙂

—–
Oh, and this was just a good link I found on packing/bringing things to Korea/Korea in general etc.
(Karen, if you’re reading, this would be good for you too.  Also, when you get to the packing stage, just let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out)
http://www.aussieontheroad.com/7-things-about-korea-comforts-from-home/


I went to the gym three times and I think I like it (haven’t paid yet)…and it’s hard to say whether I want to sign up or not.
I just feel like a fish out of water….which is going to happen no matter which gym I join.  The language barrier will always be there.  I think I like the jiu jitsu, but it’s hard to say because everything is so new there.  New language, new sport, new people/faces.
It’s roughly $50/mo (50,000 won/mo), which is actually really cheap for a gym…and I can go as many times as I want and take as many classes (ie: including kickboxing) as I want.
It’s also hard because I get out of school at 6:45/last class ends at 6:45 and the jiu jitsu is at 7pm..and it’s about a 15 minute walk from the school.  So, I basically have to haul ass to get there..and I’m still late because I have to sort of wrap up after my classes.
The instructor doesn’t seem to mind that I’m late (and I explained the situation–and he speaks ok english–which is also rare)…but I just feel crappy about it.
Jiu Jitsu is at 7pm every night (except sunday) and Kickboxing is from 9-10.
Soooo…also, if I were to do both (note to self: I also don’t NEED to go there every night either) then I’m basically busy from 9:30am to 10pm.  Then I come back and am exhausted.  Then I get up the next morning for a full day of classes.

Oi.
I told myself that I’d take the rest of the week off (as far as working out–school only) and decide if this is something I really want to do.  Then, if so, I’ll figure out a plan and get my payment in on Monday.
Until then…tomorrow is Friday and I have a ski trip to look forward to this weekend 🙂

And tonight, it’ll be just me and Downton Abbey.  🙂
I used to watch the series with my grandma from time to time (if I was at her house and it was on)…I now have the first season downloaded on my computer and I’m working my way through that.
I watched episodes one and two last night.  Love it!!

Sheesh…I logged on to just post about one thing, and then this happened, haha.  🙂

Update within an update (my grandma asked me about this on Skype and I guess I never mentioned anything about it):
Our new school year started on March 2nd and with that came my own classes.  So I have Kindergarten in the morning, go to lunch (an hour and half!!) and finish up with one more half hour kindergarten class after that.
Then from 2:50-6:45 I have 6 (one is a double period class) elementary classes. Those classes are like 40 minutes or something.  5 minute breaks in between.

*Haven’t checked a whole lot more into the Korean lessons (found places that offer them for free)–just haven’t had the time.
I know where they are, but I haven’t been out there for more info (times, etc) yet.
I know a new session starts in April though.
*I also joined a book club.
*I haven’t received a paycheck yet…first payday will be April 1.  (Technically should have been on March 1, but I don’t have a bank account yet, and they aren’t allowed to just give me cash.  Can’t get a bank account yet because I don’t have that ARC card yet).  <<That ARC card also allows me to get a cell phone.

Anyway, I think that’s a big enough update for today.  🙂

Um…it’s not the third week yet…

From what I’ve heard about culture shock, is that you typically switch over from the ‘honeymoon’ (everything is awesome and fun and cute) to the next stage around week three.
The next stage is where you start getting a bit homesick and being more aware of all the differences.

I think I’m there already.  I hope this isn’t a bad sign.

I want to like it here…but I feel like my mood is going up and down in waves.  I’ll be alright for a bit and then I’ll be like this.
I want to be able to communicate with people and to be understood.  I want to be able to read what the hell it says on all the buildings and signs.  I don’t want people staring at me all the damn time.
I honestly feel kind of like I’m losing myself.  I feel like I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore and that my confidence is definitely wavering.  And I don’t like this.

I miss my friends and family and I heard that my grandma was actually admitted into the hospital a few days ago (apparently she’s been released also) and my grandpa was put into a nursing home.  And that car guy (mentioned on and off throughout the last month) is back and sending me antagonizing emails.

Culture Shock 101:
http://www.worldwide.edu/travel_planner/culture_shock.html

Anyway–
Pretty sure I mentioned it (but maybe not–I’ve been updating here and on FB, so I sort of lose track) but I found a few trips that I want to do coming up.
The first one is this coming weekend and it’s a snowboarding/skiing trip.  I haven’t been skiing since I was..10?
Anyway, I think it’ll be really fun and hopefully it’ll be something that can pull me out of this weird funk.

Also.  I wish I could fit my American-sized feet into the shoes over here.  Really cute shoes but all too small for me.  😦
Clothes are also kind of strange.
I think I might end up with a scarf addiction while I’m here.  (And hot chocolate).
Speaking of scarves…I just bought one today 🙂

Maybe I’ll be able to find scarves when I make it out to Seoul.  Or another country nearby.  Perhaps Thailand?

Woo! Eventful Day!

I left my apartment around 11am today (it’s March 1st and a national holiday here in South Korea-relates to their independence from the Japanese) and decided that today was going to be an exploration day.

First off, I really wish St. Louis had better public transportation…like…a lot.  Cut back on some of the traffic and would cut the time of getting from Point A to Point B across the city in half.

Anyway, the Timeworld Department store is sort of the furthest I’ve ventured from my apartment, and I pretty much use it as a landmark of sorts.  So, I went there and went around all 11 (actually it has a few lower levels below “1” and a “skyview” deck at the very top (level 12)) floors to see what all was actually there.  Jewelry/Luxury Goods on the first floor (Prada, Gucci, Burberry, etc), then mens wear, women’s wear, baby stuff, sports, outdoorsy stuff, movie theatre/cinema, FITNESS GYM (with golf simulators)…

Left there and went in a different direction than usual, and found a bunch of restaurants, batting cages, etc.
Ended up finding an Italian restaurant (my cravings haven’t really left yet.  I still crave burgers and pizza and pasta etc..)–it was quite tasty.  I actually surprised myself because I ordered a bulogi and potato pizza with mustard sauce and onion (and cheese and sauce).  It said “Favorite” or something next to it, and I was feeling adventurous at the time…and it was surprisingly really good!  ha.
Even writing this now I’m like…I ordered what?  But hey, it was tasty.

Next, I took the subway (first time using the Korean subway) and went to the Daejeon train station (where I was told I could find a good map).  I got a map from the tourist booth (YAYYYY!!!) and then wandered around that part of Daejeon for a bit.
I went back underground and was intending to head back, but saw a sign pointing another direction for the “underground shopping district”…which is…exactly that.
There were a bunch of little stalls? in a rather long looking hallway with people selling everything from socks to cell phones.
I did also find our equivalent to the $1 store too.  Good to remember.  There’s also another one a bit closer to home though should I need one.  I also found a little store that had a bunch of Korean figurines and fancy mirrors (rhinestones/jewels etc) and other various trinkets…most having something to do with Korea.  I was really tempted to buy some of the little figurines because they were adorable…and I haven’t seen anything like them yet…
Might go back for them…

Mmm..and yeah, then I came back.  And that’s about it.  It’s approaching 5pm here, so I’ll have to find dinner soon.

Oh, and an older man outside of the Daejeon Train Station asked me if I was Russian, lol.  He was working at a fruit stand…seemed to be relieved when I told him that I was American.  🙂

Work tomorrow and then the weekend!

Also:
http://www.adventurekorea.com/
Planning on doing the:
Super Slope Sale (March 10)–I’ve been wanting to learn to snowboard for the longest time, and this seems like a great opportunity…and they give lessons to newbies for free (well..it’s included)
Cherry Blossom Gyeongju Bike Ride (April 7)
Annd dang…there’s also a Marathon/Half/10K/5K in Gyeongju that same day.  I was kind of hoping to be able to do the 10K (not enough time to get ready for a half by then)…didn’t realize til now that they were on the same day…

And there’s also this:
http://www.waegooktravel.com/jejuspring.htm (May 12 and 13)

South Korea map

 

Daejeon is pretty much smack in the middle of the country and then over to the left a bit.

Jeju is the little island below the peninsula (described as the Hawaii of Korea)

Gyeongju is on the eastern coast, about an inch south of Daejeon.

Pretty Sure This is Called Harrassment Now…

So, about the second story I was going to mention in my last post.  (If you’re friends with me on FB, then you’re probably familiar with this).

Anyway, so I sold my car on the 8th to this guy (he’s a foreign exchange student at a local university), and not even two days later he sent me an email saying that he wanted to basically exchange the car back.  ie: I “give him the money back and he gives the car back to me”.  Um.  What?!  No.
There’s nothing wrong with the car and it’s actually in great condition, but he just said he realized that he’s only in America for one more year and doesn’t need the car.  And he said there’s “something wrong with my title”  because he wasn’t able to get his plates right away…because I still had a loan out on it.
Anyway, I explained the process (I think we’re up to at least 5 either phone calls or emails since the 8th) where I kept telling him to be patient and that if he has any questions to please call the DMV.  (I explained what the DMV was and what they do…even though he’s tried to get plates and has a permit already).
So, this has basically been a giant pain in the butt ever since I sold the car to him.  I honestly don’t have time for this either…I’m moving in under a week and I just have a lot on my plate.  I know I’m doing everything right, and I seriously feel like I’m being harassed.
I ignored the last email he sent (I think two days ago) and he had his friend call me today from a different number and basically interrogated me for 20 minutes.  And I really don’t think he was actually listening to what I was saying.
Anyway, I’ve just decided to not respond anymore and if someone needs to contact me (even rental companies etc, which I’ve been in contact with) then they can leave a message.  My phone is being disconnected on my last day in the US anyway.

So, after that phone call earlier today, the guy that bought my car sent me an email that says:

“I know now that u used my money to pay your loan. I really feel angry about this condition. This is not normal at all. I am not sure whether this is a legal deal. But it has wasted my time and energy. You need give a reasonable explanation about your behaviour. And you also need compensate my loss during the process.  “

Um.  Okayyyyyyy.
I really don’t know what else to do besides ignore it.  Some of my friends are telling me to tell him that I’m done corresponding with him and that if he or his friends contacts me again that I’ll inform the authorities.
I dunno..I feel like that’s taking it kinda far, but I also am getting kinda worked up over this.  Anytime my phone lets me know that I have a new email, I’m like “Oh gosh..it’s probably him.”

I don’t need this extra stress.


Anyway, on an unrelated note…my grandma put together a video montage from my going-away party and had some family members say some stuff.  Super sweet 😀

I also spent today painting her upstairs…and um..it’s a lot more space than I remember..lol.  And lots of narrow little corners..

Tues:
Finishing that paint job up tomorrow and hopefully grabbing lunch with a friend (if the weather cooperates) and then headed to my storage unit to check out the space and sign some papers.
Also needing to pick up some BOXES!

Wed:
*Cleaning/Packing
*Massage at 2pm
*TEFL Course Stuff

Thurs:
*Lunch with my aunt
*Packing/Cleaning
*TEFL Course stuff

Friday:
*Packing
*TEFL ALL DAY!
*Chocolate Fondue Night with the ladies!! 😀 😀

Saturday:
*MOVING DAY!!!
*Come back to the apt and finish cleaning
*Inspection and turn in keys
(If you want an awesome place to live, I know of one 😀  I’ve absolutely loved living at my apartment…it’s fantastic!)

Sunday:
*TEFL Course

Monday 2/20…departure day!:
*Return Rental Car (Nooooo!!!…my fun little racecar!)
*Lunch with mom
*Airport!

Edit (2/14):
Got 3 more calls from that car guy today and an email…all between 10 and 2pm today.
I’ve been trying to ignore it the past 2 days, and it’s been crazy.  I sent one final email today basically telling him that what he’s doing is harassment and that it isn’t legal here in the US and if I get another email or call from him or any of his friends that I’ll contact the police.

What else would I use the loan money for?  That is completely normal here in the United States, perhaps it is not in China.

Also, what you are doing to me is called harassment.  That is not legal and I will contact the police if necessary.
I have gone above my duties as a seller and do not like how you are treating me.
The loan will clear the bank within 10 days after they receive my payment.  You can do what you want with the car after that.

I will contact you when the lien release is available.  I do not want to hear any more from you or your friends until that time.

This is seriously getting ridiculous.
Not even 5 minutes later, I got another email from him yelling at me saying:

You let me check the  bank and the dmv. I checked it but they all said they can not shoe me the information. And you didn’t reply my email and phone call. You said u will call someone on Monday and reply me. Have u replied me?! I want to ask what u want to do? If you want to make the deal in this way. Ok I would like to find other ways to deal with this situation.

Maybe since he says he’ll have to find other ways to deal with the situation that he’ll stop contacting me.  Or maybe he’ll call the police or a lawyer.  Wouldn’t that be nice.

Anyway, 6 days til departure day.