Sunday, September 29, 2013

I am so freaking sore

So this weekend was pretty gloomy, but I did lots of stuff to make up for the less than stellar weather (and thankfully it wasn't SUPER HOT, which I'm very grateful for. I'd love some actual fall weather tho. It's still like 75 degrees every day!)

So for most EPIK teachers, after you get your first paycheck, it's customary to bring some food in to your office as a thank you/relationship building kind of a thing. I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for some munchins for the subject teachers' office, and I think they really liked them! They were all gone by lunch time, so I suppose that's a good sign.

this says "Christina Teacher bought
donuts- enjoy (literally eat well)!"
 I also bought small boxes of truffles for my co teachers, as they have all been extra helpful and welcoming, and cause they have to deal with me on a daily basis haha. So I was heading home on the bus and I got this text from one of my co teachers, with whom I also discuss lots of korean dramas haha

So sweet!
 After school, a few friends and I met up and headed to Myeongdong again, this time to actually shop since we finally got paid. Here are a few pics of my Friday night!

seriously pondering how many Lee
Min Ho posters it's appropriate to have.
I already have 3 small ones. This was a 12 pack
Don't judge me, he's one of my favorite Korean actors

Call for help buttons in the bathroom

found some standups of So Ji Sub, another
one of my favorite Korean actors

Side note, when a bunch of the teachers and I were walking around Hongdae, we saw this display in the Hongdae location and my 6th grade coteacher started whacking me on the arm and squealing "So Ji Sub!!!" cause we both like him in The Master's Sun. It's nice to see that the Koreans are hardcore fangirls too. Ahem. Back to Friday

Just read the label. LOL. 

And then So Ji Sub appeared again. It's
like Korea wants to constantly remind me
I have to wait for the next episode to air.

Found this in Forever 21. Flashbacks to
5th grade, anyone?

You can see Namsan tower at night

So after dinner and a late night life debrief at a coffee shop, we headed home with our purchases in tow (I can already tell I'm going to need an extra suitcase... or two... to bring my new wardrobe home. SORRY NOT SORRY).

So after a fun shopping trip, I got up god awfully early on Saturday morning. Why, you ask? Because I had to take the subway for an hour to get to our destination- Dobongsan station. San means mountain. yup. I climbed a freaking mountain.

Not sure what it says but it was pretty

Korean climbers are INTENSE

This was SUPER DIFFICULT because there are
lots of parts where it's not an even path

so. many. stairs.

lots of scaling rocks

yeah. We had to climb up that. 

Almost to the top!

to get to the top you kind of
hang on to the railings for dear life
and do your best. aka TERRIFYING

the views were worth the trip!

One of the hardest and most rewarding things I've
ever done! 

Seoul from the top of Dobong mountain


We figured out that climbing down backwards
worked better!


climbing the mountain was definitely one of the most difficult things that I have done, but also one of the most rewarding. I definitely felt the burn this morning tho. My entire body is pretty sore, since we walked a total of 8 miles and a lot of that involved scaling rocks and some pretty unstable ground. But it was a lot of fun. I may or may not go hiking again, but if I do, I'm definitely going to get those walking sticks all the Koreans had!!

3 day week this week!!YAY

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting my life together

As expected, the post Chuseok slump came, and it was really tough to pull myself out of bed monday morning. But school and errands beckoned. I really wanted to get things sorted with my phone, bank and internet. This month has been great culturally, but there are a lot of personal frustrations you have to deal with when getting set up in a foreign country.

Anywho, Monday there was a teacher's meeting, but my co teacher was helping me sort out my cell phone (it told me I didn't have any data left, when I'd been carefully keeping track). Apparently the girl at the phone store signed me up for LTE instead of 3g data (side note: WAE?!?!?) and so that's why it was messed up. So after talking to my teacher, I ended up with unlimited data since it was only \10,000 more than a pretty small data plan. So why not?

And then my co teacher told me I didn't have to go anyway- she doesn't. She figures if there is something important that someone else will let her know haha. But she also said she knew it was probably overwhelming and frustrating for me to sit in a room with lots and lots of Korean being spoken. I appreciate the gesture. I'm pretty tired most days from the effort of trying to understand people and trying to get them to understand me. This isn't a Korea thing, it's a standard language barrier tiredness that I've encountered before. Plus, I usually need some downtime after being surrounded by people every day, so it was nice to get a break.

My co teacher also called to set up internet installation for me, which was SUPER nice of her and I'm really grateful. I'm gonna have to figure out how to give her a gift for being super helpful. Since I got my first paycheck, I should really buy my co teachers and co workers a gift to say thanks for the welcome. I already gave my principal and caretaker their gifts, so I'm just debating on a big gift for tomorrow (cause that would make Friday even more awesome, right?) I'm thinking of stopping at Dunkin' Donuts and just picking up some donuts for the room. I want to get something more special specifically for my co teachers, but maybe I'll just take them out to dinner sometime. UGH RELATIONSHIP BUILDING IS SO FRUSTRATING.

Tuesday was another eventful day, as I had lots to do. I didn't have time to finish my lesson planning for the next couple of days, so that followed me home. Lessons from scratch take an exceptionally long time to plan! It was also busy because I made an appointment to go to a language class in Sincheon. Sarah and I met up (after I was approached by people wanting me to join their bible study, despite the fact that we could only communicate in basic and broken Konglish, and then approached at another station by a creepy man who leaned over and stared at me for a while, gave me a 100 won coin and then gave me his address and phone number?) and we registered for the class together. The girl's English was AMAZING even though she hadn't ever studied in an English speaking country, so I was super jealous. She was genuinely surprised when Sarah and I said we were excited to learn Korean. Which is a pretty standard reaction from Koreans. Maybe they've never been somewhere where they couldn't communicate? Or they just don't meet many English teachers who are keen to learn Korean (though I can't for the life of me imagine WHY someone wouldn't want to learn how to communicate in a language they will be surrounded by for a year...?)

We went to a coffee shop and the buzzers
had TVs in them. So I got to enjoy some
So Ji Sub :)

He's also on all the cups at this
particular shop, as it's featured in
his drama, The Master's Sun

I've been learning a lot about school culture for teachers here, which has been enlightening. Apparently the students really like to say hi to me because I actually walk around the school- the old english teacher would just stay in the English room... He didn't eat with the teachers or really interact with them. That's his choice, but I'm having a blast with my co teachers, so I can't imagine just sitting in the English class all day.

Bathroom selfie because I love my new skirt! I try to
dress nice here cause Koreans dress
really well and I'm always getting stared at. Might
as well try and look my best, right?

Another odd teacher thing happened yesterday. I was told Tuesday we were going out wednesday (I internally panicked because the Internet guy was coming Wednesday and I didn't want to postpone, or miss the outing). Turns out, once a month or so, all of the subject teachers leave school at 2 (normally we all leave at 4:40) and go hang out and do something cultural or fun. Like see a movie. Yesterday we didn't have much planned, so we went to Hongik University and toured the campus (where the teachers heard about my creeper story and still wanted to know if he was at least cute... NOPE). Then they told me if I saw any guys I liked they would totally talk to them for me, because if I was there alone a bunch of them would have come talked to me (yeah ok co workers. OK... probably not). Then we went into hongdae and shopped a bit and got Japanese Ramen for dinner (they distinguish cause Korean Ramyun is spicier. Japanese isn't). It was delicious. Buuuut I still suck at eating noodles with chopsticks so that was still a fail. I've been trying to secretly observe how the heck people do it here, just so I don't look so uncivilized when I eat them. It's not like it's an elegant process, but still. I haven't gotten the hang of it yet... Wamp.

The cable guy pulled all of those wires from
outside of my window. Idk what they do. Then
he was just chillin tryin to fix my internet.
 I now have access!

In other news, one of my co teachers and I now have established an "it's ok to text about non work related things" relationship, as I texted her about the crazy ajusshi at the subway and we've been texting about our kdrama, Master's Sun. I watched the episode on a live stream site because my co teachers aren't good with spoilers and I wanted to have a semblance of an idea about what was going on. Sure enough, a minute after the ep ends I get a text from my co teacher about the ending!!! Glad it wasn't spoiled for me!
Then I had to wait patiently for the english sub to come out, which I watched this afternoon in the middle of my 2.5 hours of deskwarming. Productivity!!! It's also nice to have someone I can text with random questions about Korea.

I need to get out and about and make more Korean friends.

1 day till the weekend, and another ep of master's sun tonight!!! Huzzah!

And if you've stuck with me this long, yes, my lessons are going well, I now have a bank card, functioning phone and internet. YAY.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cable Cars, Changdeokgung and more!


Sigh. My phone is messed up (apparently I already used all of my data? Even though I turned cellular data off so I can really only use wifi?? Korea, what the eff), my bank account is messed up cause I need to go get a bank card, and I still don't have wifi. I'm hoping all of this will be remedied by next weekend. Even though this coffee shop has nice drinks, I'm pretty tired of trekking over here 2-3 times a week. Although the manager went out of her way to say hi to me today. That was sweet.

Anywho, this has been a frustrating weekend technology wise, but experience wise, it's been pretty awesome. You can see what I did for Chuseok in my last post, but Saturday and Sunday have also been filled with touristy things that have been TONS of fun! I've also had a bunch of the "OMG, IS THIS MY LIFE?!?!?" moments this weekend because I've been doing a ton of awesome things and seeing amazing sights. This month has been a whirlwind, but it's been pretty fantastic as far as, you know, life and world experience goes.

So yeah, it's been a pretty full weekend (well, more like a week since I had 5 days off...). Going back to school is gonna be a little rough tomorrow... Ouch.

Enjoy some pictures. I'm feeling pretty lazy right now, so let's see how captions go. If you're super curious, I uploaded a bunch more on FB. This is like the highlights version of my pictures.

Side note: This weekend Sarah and I got asked to be in a tourist picture because she thought we were pretty. Or our hair. I can't tell, I only heard the word pretty. AND the lady today at the Korean restaurant we ate at told me my hair was pretty. And I think she gave us a discount cause we tried to use Korean and we're cute. Huzzah!!! Don't judge, it was really exciting.

Ahem. Moving on

Today (Sunday) Sarah and I hit up Changdeokgung, aka Changdeok Palace today. Gyeongbokgung is the most famous I think, but this one was actually used during Japanese occupation and wasn't completely destroyed like the other ones. There was a fire at some point tho, so it has been partially reconstructed.

at one of the gates

where important ceremonies were held

beautiful curtains

Where the King sat

where important political meetings were held. The
blue was to show off wealth and power (it's more expensive
than the other materials)

Palace with the metropolitan scene in the back. Very
characteristic of  Seoul, it still awes me every time.
Also note the pillars where the subjects had to stand
according to rank

lots of cool nooks, crannies and random
staircases and paths in here!

I'm probably a slightly bigger than average
Josen dynasty person. But I still fit through
the doors!

Waiting to tour the secret garden.

Accessible by tour only, the Secret Garden was built in the back of the palace to promote the health and wisdom of the royal family. They came here to relax and study

in the back is an abandoned building that
used to house all the books
they got from China

Enjoying our day!

one of the pavilions used for relaxation
or scholarly work

The door meant to promote a long and
 productive life

so many pretty locations! 

I won a postcard for knowing that King Sejong
was on the 10,000 won note. Score!

we had a wonderful tour!! (Also this pavilion
was cool cause it has a double roof!)

Aaaand this is what I did Saturday. I'm too lazy to rearrange the pictures haha. We met up with a bunch of EPIKers Saturday to check out Myeongdong, which is a really great shopping area. I'm just itching to get my first paycheck (and bank card. wamp) so I can return to the area and pick up some stuff I've had my eye on. Huzzah!

Anyway, then we hiked up to the cable cars that take you up to Namsan Tower. Already a popular attraction, the cable cars are featured in popular K dramas like Boys Over Flowers and I think Rooftop Prince? so they're extra popular. And it's just all over a pretty cool experience

Street food- a hot dog covered in french
fries. YUM. 

the cable car up to Namsan Tower

Sarah enjoying the cable car ride
we stopped by the Teddy Bear museum,
which depicts Korean history with
teddy bear displays
Like this, a royal wedding!

Namsan Tower aka N. Seoul Tower

being adorable

we made a love lock

swearing our eternal best friend love for all of
Seoul to see

this was too cute not to buy

And then we went for food- here are two common things I like to eat in Korea

Kimbap- essentially Korean sushi

bibimbap. Basically veggies and rice,
sometimes meat two
 And I picked up some awesome stuff to start decorating my apartment!

G dragon and Top from Big Bang, plus some Lee Min Ho
(my favorite K drama star). 

I swear I'm a mature college graduate with a job. Really, I am.