Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roses, Janggu Story, Birthdays and Masks!

The heat is here. Damn, it's gonna be a loooooooong, hot summer. On the plus side, that means the roses are blooming nicely!  I don't know why, but roses are a big deal in Korea. Apparently May 19th is like a coming of age day in Korea for 20 year olds, so lots of young people had flowers and roses? I dunno, just something I saw on facebook from my Korean friends...

it's just nice to see them all the time

Pretty slow week at work- all of the teachers have open classes, so we don't have class in the afternoons. Which is AWESOME. But also, since it's so hot already and we aren't allowed to use the AC, I am pretty sure I'm going to melt sometime soon. Ugh.

Young Ah recording the 4th grade role plays

Sword fighting grandma? I dunno man.

And because I'm a creeper, here's what the office looks like around 3 o'clock. That's the sports teacher and my co teacher. haha.

another pretty rose I found at school

Young Ah and I clearly text about
important things

On Wednesday (after my Korean class with Sarah), we headed back to Hongdae to a salsa club. Why? Because Sarah's co teacher, Seungmin, takes salsa classes and they had a performance. She excitedly invited us to come, and she was really great and it was SO AWESOME. Again, we were the only foreigners there, which of course got a lot of incredulous looks...sigh. Someday I'll get used to it.

Jean (Seungmin's friend), Seungmin, Sarah and I. Seungmin
looked great and danced fantastically!!

This ahjumma was taking out the trash and

girl. It's like 83 degrees outside. Why do
you need a jacket?!?!

On Friday, we went out to celebrate my friend Maria's birthday in the only way we know how- dinner, drinks and noraebang!

1+1 wine at the restaurant we went to.
HUZZAH. Tho the waiter did look at me funny
when I said I wasn't sharing...?

We got bagged cocktails from a street vendor
in Hongdae. Yep. Korea is a magical place.
That's Maria, the birthday girl and fellow

Of course we jammed out to Kpop goodies and oldies (NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, etc) at noraebang. It's always an excellent time. 

birthday girl


Jeanie jams out to NSYNC

Sarah and Jasmine rock on to Adele

Priscilla, Anna and Canako playing percussion

On Saturday, Young Ah invited me to one of her janggu performances. She asked if any of my friends wanted to come, and I passed the invite to Lauren and Sarah, who I don't think have seen a traditional performance yet. It was a bit long (it's hard to sit through lots of speeches and stuff when you have NO idea what's happening haha), but was really fun! It's great to see Young Ah doing what she loves and having fun, and it's awesome to get a traditional experience. Lauren, Sarah and I all remarked on the weird phenomenon of the janggu. We all felt quite mesmerized and almost hypnotized. The songs are very rhythmic, and the drummers all move in unison, so it's easy to get kind of lulled into a trance. Lauren said "It's like I'm falling asleep but I'm still tapping to the rhythm..." It's not boring by any means, but you'd have to see a full performance to know what I mean. 

The janggu is the hourglass shaped drum


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I can't remember what the hats represent.
But Young Ah was in this dance!

Head twirling!! SO COOL!!!

Young Ah is learning this, but is still
a beginner so she isn't performing
it yet

here are some blurry pics of Young Ah (oops. It's hard to capture a moving performance with an iPhone...)
I can usually find her because she's one of a few people who wears black shoes.

Hae In, another teacher from my school, Lauren, Sarah and I
all came to see Young Ah!

I'm so lucky to have such an awesome
co teacher :)

Here are a couple of better pictures from my digital camera. I'm too lazy to move them because blogger is annoying and it takes forever. 

young ah is third from the front. Black shoes,

This is the one part of the traditional music that I'm not
too fond of. It's a little ear piercing...

The last song is a mix of all instruments and includes the
head twirling.

She's so awesome!

I'm so happy she invited us! And she was really excited to have guests! She always tells me how grateful she is that I'm interested in traditional Korean music. I love having the opportunity to see traditional Korean things, because they're so much older and so different than anything we have. Part of me really wants to learn the janggu, because it seems pretty fun and also cause how awesome would "Skills: can play the traditional Korean janggu" look on my resume? 

Here are some clips of the show, in case you want to hear some traditional music. It's a long video, but it's a conglomeration of 30 second clips, to give you a sample of all the different parts of the performance. 

The janggu part in the beginning is used to drive away evil spirits. Some parts represent nature by using the sounds of heaven and earth, others (like the hat spinning one) are meant to show the harmonious movement of different parts of the body

Sunday was a really rainy day, so I spent most of it as I usually do, cleaning my apartment, working out, studying, catching up on TV and relaxing. I also did a little shopping. Etude House, a popular makeup store in Korea, is where I buy lots of cosmetics, especially face masks. Lo and behold, Sarah informed me of a sale happening on, you guessed it, FACEMASKS!!!! It was essentially a buy one get one free sale (here they call it 1+1, or in this case 10+10), so I ended up getting about 25 ish masks for $12. 

all the letters are different masks, doing a
variety of things, like nourishing,
revitalizing, brightening, repair, etc. 

I don't really know if they do all that they promise, or if they're really just moisturizing masks, but I generally like the way my skin feels during and after use, they smell nice, and mask time is my chill and relax time. It's a win, win, win!

Cesca, I promise you'll get addicted to them too!


It's looking to be a sweltering summer here in Seoul. Stay cool, everyone! Also please hope I don't melt. Damn energy crisis and AC limits at school. And damn Koreans and their lack of sweat and therefore limited need of deodorant. They all look normal and I always look like I'm dying in the heat. WAMP. Oh well. Wish me luck.

In light of the Sewol incident, lots of Kpop comebacks were understandably and justifiably delayed. EXO pushed it's comeback back till May, and I gotta say, their new songs is pretty catchy. I dig it. 

EXO is also in the news a lot recently because of a big, er, not scandal per se, but big fight? One of the Chinese members, Kris, wants to leave the group (maybe he did already, I'm not sure) because SM entertainment is notorious for treating their artists poorly, and so there was a whole big hullabaloo about that. The Kpop world is intense. I wish him and the rest of the group well in future endeavors, and hope that SM changes it's borderline criminal ways.

So here's your Kpop song of the week, EXO's Overdose

Sunday, May 18, 2014

9 Months in the ROK

That's right! I can't believe I've been in Korea for 9 months!

To quote my mother, "I know... I didn't even think you'd make it 9 minutes..."

To be fair, she's right. I almost didn't get on the plane because I was so nervous. I doubted everything I'd decided and thought I was crazy for thinking I could pick up my life and move across the world. And then I said, "You know what Christina, this is going to be amazing. It's a great opportunity, you can travel, you'll do amazing things and see great stuff, and if you don't go, you'll regret it." And 9 months later, I have to say, the only thing I regret is that I didn't eat at Anderson's more before I came. DAMN I miss roast beef.  And, you know, I miss people and stuff.

As you may have read in my last post, I passed my open class evaluation and so I'm on the way to renewal! I was really nervous about my class on Monday, but it went really well! Their homeroom teacher gave them a stern talking to and told them they had to be really good for my class, I think, and they behaved well and participated actively. My principal liked my materials and I think they like me a lot, so I'm happy that it's looking like I'll be here another year! 

That is, if I don't melt during this heat in the summer. It's already supposed to be like 80 degrees this whole week. Nooooot super excited.

Anywho, aside from Monday, I had a pretty low key week, besides being busy with Korean class and stuff.

Except I've been really tired this week. Want to know why? Check out this video I made (I told Lauren I'd make it if it happened again. It did- watch to see what IT is)


But really, aside from that, life is pretty swell and I really can't complain.

Some roses on the walk to work

So much Korean, and only a couple red marks
for mistakes!

Here are some pics of my Korean class. My teacher was wearing a super cute outfit so I wanted to get a picture. I'm such a creeper.

that's right. I'm learning stuff.

not an uncommon site- old people collecting

 We did role plays again with my 4th graders. Young Ah and I wrote the scripts, so they involved witches, iron man, and some classics like peter pan and cinderella. 

Iron man. And a clown?

He was supposed to be Wendy in Peter Pan
so he chose this wig haha

He lost Rock, Paper, Scissors, so he had to be
cinderella. He chose to wear "Christina Teacher

And then he had to 'dance' with the prince

Thursday was Teacher's Day! I didn't get too many things, just a few students brought me small stuff. Lots of them wished me a happy day, and they're pretty sweet most of the time, so I wasn't too sad.  

Present from a 6th grader, Da Eun. She gave me a sweet card
last Christmas

Apparenly she really likes Harry Potter, so she
learn a lot of English from it. I think she's pretty

These are on my walk to school. So pretty!
I saw them on Thursday morning and
really wanted to take a picture.

carnation from one of my 5th graders

Our treat at lunch- Apple yogurt?

a card from one of my 4th graders. She told
me she hated English until I started teaching,
and that even tho her test scores weren't great
she wanted to work really hard. I was touched.

I think I walked by a protest? I can never tell

This is how my kids take tests...

SNACK TIME- It's a type of chocopie
esque thing. It's a cake with cream filling and
an outer coating of chocolate.

Friday afternon snack time- ddeokbokki,
fried foods (twigim), kimbap and

Diner with sarah- all of this for like $12 total

It's time for cute new sandals! 

On Sunday, I met up with Lauren, Sarah and Janell for brunch. We decided to start trying a bunch of brunch places around Seoul. Because who doesn't love brunch? 

This place is called "Egg and Spoon Race"

the decor was cute!

my omelette filled with potatoes and lots
of veggies. SO GOOD

Janell and Sarah

Lauren and me!

Sarah's spoon was a ghost!

Cool glasses!

Delicious strawberry iced tea


After stuffing ourselves silly, Janell, Sarah and I decided to wander around the Edae area a bit, and thought we should check out the campus of Ehwa Women's University. It's super cool and pretty! 

Imitating the tigers. Yeah, those are
Joseon dynasty era tiger statues.

Edae is a good shopping area, so we wandered around to get ideas for what to buy on payday haha.


We also decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Hapjeong to see the YG Entertainment building, home of some of my Kpop favorites like BigBang and 2ne1. Janell suggested it on a whim because yesterday was her favorite Bigbang member's birthday (his name is Youngbae, but his stage name is Taeyang, which means sun).

Janell's note was still there! Sometimes they paint over
the wall

signing for ourselves

There was some cool street art near YG as well

one last cute one with the building
that doesn't look important unless
you know what it is haha

Then we went to the shopping center near Hapjeong:

Kids playing in the fountains. 


So, all in all, a less crazy week and weekend. I needed it after all the stress and anxiety of planning and doing my open class!  My school's birthday is this Friday, so I only have a 4 day week this week! Score!!

Today marks 9 months in Korea, with many more to come. I'm still having an amazing time, and I'm so excited about what my future holds here. Except for the humidity... ugh. 

*(Also, for any of you that remember that I am a horse racing enthusiast, yes, I have been paying attention, and I know that California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby, also won the Preakness. I would LOVE to see a Triple Crown winner!!! Maybe I'll try and live stream the race so I can see it if he wins the Belmont....)

Anywho, sending lots of love all the way home!

In honor of my visit to their entertainment company HQ, here's another one of my favorite BIGBANG songs, Bad Boy. Sarah and I hear this song all the time when we're out in Seoul, and we always have to stop and jam out (tho we jam out to all the kpop songs we hear when we're out. And people think we're crazy. Oh well!)