Sunday, September 21, 2014

Super Show 6 and Other Super Awesome Things

Well, we are slooooowly moving into fall weather over here. By slowly, I mean that the mornings and evenings are sweater weather with summer hitting in the afternoon. It makes picking out clothes for the day a tiny bit difficult. But I know I'll regret it all when winter comes, so for now, I am content with the cool mornings and warm afternoons.

Again, it was a pretty standard work week. A while ago, SMOE asked if any of us wanted to post for a week on the SMOE Instagram, so I did that this week, so a few of these pictures are from when I posted on that page. It was fun to share my life with other people in SMOE and potential EPIK teachers. 

It was a pretty easy work week this week. I taught my sixth graders about currencies around the world, taught fifth grade about the past tense, and fourth grade about sports and outdoor activities. 

Korean class is still going well, even though I often feel like skipping haha. This weekend was pretty swell, so I'll get to that in a few.

we have a magnet board in the English room.
Usually the girls try and make their
favorite idol's names. Here are 2 sixth graders
working harder than they ever do in class haha

It usually ends up being someone from
EXO or SNSD...

I was grocery shopping and saw this. You can
get Hello Kitty toilet paper, or toilet paper with
a free box of tissues attached. Awesome

Foot mask time! It's basically like putting lotion
on then putting a sock on, but I like these better.

This is my favorite building on my walk
to work. It's called Espresso Haus and it's

a beautiful day at school

the dreaded rib lunch. Delicious, but difficult to
eat because of the bone. It makes my hand hurt
because I have to grip the chopsticks so hard.

OMG cat on my mailbox


a new Samsung store opened in Hongdae
so this guy was advertising

Lauren found a guy who sells goat cheese, so
we ordered some. IT'S SO GOOD.

I love and hate spaghetti day, because it's
yummy but also hard to eat. Bonus- carrot/apple
juice. More delicious than it sounds!

Sometimes I walk home a different way and get a really nice
view of the mountains and I love it.

How I feel during Korean class. My poor
brain has to work hard after a long day at work

Friday is our weekly meeting time, and we usually
get snacks for the 4 o'clock meeting. This week
was smoothie time!

Recently, I've been watching a show that's the latest craze here. It's called 비정상회담, which means "Abnormal Summit" or "Unusual Conference." It's a show about a group of 11 foreigners who get together and discuss issues brought up by the guests to determine if the guest is abnormal or not. Issues range from "I don't think my friend should move in with her boyfriend before marriage," to "I think sex education should be offered in Korea like language and math." The guests, who are from a variety of places, (Italy, China, Ghana, Turkey, America, France, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Japan, and Germany) all discuss their opinions about the issues by reference their own culture. It's a super interesting show, and it's exceptionally inspirational for me because the show is entirely in Korean. These foreigners are SO GOOD and I'm so impressed. It's also interesting to hear about other cultures and to learn how that shapes our opinions of things. 

The show, for me, is also discouraging in a way, because I am very envious of the foreigners there. Some of them are around my age, and their Korean is leaps and bounds ahead of mine. I know it's silly to compare, because some of them have lived here for a long time, or they were in immersion programs or things, but I'm sad that my Korean isn't better after a year. Sure, I can get by, and yes, I know more than a good amount of foreigners here, but it's hard to feel like it's enough when I can't understand what my 9 year old students say...

Watching the show has made me want to study even harder though, even if it's tough. I wish I could practice more, but I get so nervous...

On Friday, I had a long chat with young ah about my insecurities using korean at work or in general. I'm annoyed that I encourage my students to try but can't seem to get myself to do so outside of Korean class, but it's daunting to try when there are 12 native Korean speakers around you. In English class, it's just me listening- everyone else in the room is learning English, and I think that makes it a lot easier. I speak a lot more and try a lot more Korean in my class, because I'm with other similarly able people. But man, talking in front of native speakers is scary.

Young Ah assured me that I was doing fine, and that my listening skills were getting better, and that I was working hard. She told me we could start doing "Korean time" at work, but I still find it daunting because her English is so good and my Korean is so bad. It's easy to just be lazy and use English...

Sigh. The only way to get better is to practice though, so I'm gonna have to suck it up and speak more...


That was a heavy few paragraphs. Cheer up
with cute animal lotions!

I really need to tell Korea that 'sand' is not an
appropriate way to shorten the word 'sandwich'

Saturday was the moment Sarah, Cesca and I have been waiting for for aaaages, Super Show 6!!! Super Junior had a comeback recently, so obviously a concert was in order. After much help from Korean friends, we secured 3 standing tickets to the show. Armed with snacks, sunscreen, wedge sneakers (for the height advantage, which I actually have here...) and smiles, we headed down to the Sports Complex where they held part of the 1988 Olympic games for the concert.

Super excited!!

This was our section. Despite being let in
after like 700 people, we got really awesome

Waiting for the concert. Sarah was in a
different section, so we debriefed after
the concert

Official wristband!

Concert swag- a Super Show official
light stick

we had an incredible view of the show

we sat waiting. The woman in front of cesca essentially sat on
her. Whyyyyyy. 

Pics weren't allowed once the show started,
so I had to get a quick show of the beautiful
sapphire blue audience

Most kpop groups have official colors, light sticks and fangroup names. BigBang's color is yellow, it's light stick is a crown shape and it's fandom name is VIPs. Super Junior's color is sapphire blue, it's light stick depends on the show, and it's fandom name is ELF, which means EverLasting Friends (yes, in English).  It's a little corny, but it's nice to have so many symbols of fan unity.

Here's a video to show you just how lovely the Sapphire Blue Ocean looks. Soooo gorgeous!

I loooooooove Big Bang, but I have to say, the sapphire blue audience was one of the prettiest things I have ever seen. The yellow doesn't compare. And fans at this concert were much better about not keeping the light sticks up to high, so we got incredible views of, and a few waves(!) from the performers. The energy was high, the views were fabulous, and the acts highly amusing. We were close enough and had great views, so I barely even needed to look at the projection screens, we were that close. I know Korean style isn't for everyone, but I really diiiig it.

I enjoyed this concert immensely- it's probably the best one I've gone to. Actually, hands down it was. I was mentally and physically prepped for the standing section, and I didn't even have much anxiety. For a person who used to get panic attacks in department stores during back to school sales, this is a major step up. Guess that's what a year of dealing with incredibly thick crowds will do for you! It was either sink or swim in that regard, and so I think the crowded buses and subways have really helped me adapt and get rid of my anxiety about that.

Sadly, unlike BigBang, there was no 'photo time' during this concert. They were incredibly strict and pulled a good 10 people out of our section for taking illegal pictures. At the very end, however, during the final bow, everyone whipped out their cameras so I managed to get a few not great shots. 

Super Junior, you were AWESOME

Kyuhyuuuuun saying goodbye.

This weekend was special, since Sunday's concert marks 100 concerts for Super Junior, an unprecedented number for Kpop. It's impressive that after 7 albums and nearly 10 years (they debuted in 2005), they still can sell out concerts and pack venues with adoring fans. Here's to many more concerts and many more years, Super Junior!

we loved it

Cesca did great for her first standing experience.

I hope to go to many more concerts!! 

Sore from standing, we headed home. I slept for a while, and then met up with Sarah again to head out east to meet up with a friend we haven't seen in a while, Canako. It's too easy to get caught up in the routine and small group of friends. This year, I'm going to try and make an effort to see more of my friends across the city, and not be as antisocial as I have been the past few months. 

We met up to go to a Rilakkuma cafe. Yep, another theme cafe. Rilakkuma is a Japanese character, and it's super adorable. It's also very popular here. We met up to just chat and debrief our lives, since it's been a while since we've seen each other. It was so nice to catch up in the cozy cafe, surrounded by adorable Rilakkuma themed, well, everything.

We almost couldn't find it because the door
isn't over the top

This is Rilakkuma

So much fun!!

I was glad to have so much time with my friends this weekend, and to be able to share so many fun experiences. It's easy to get frustrated with teaching or with my Korean levels, or a multitude of other things, but I always have lots of things available to cheer me up and remind me that moving here was a pretty great decision.

I've got a full week ahead of me, but I'm super excited since I'm going on a trip next weekend. For the 3 of you that read this blog besides my parents (hi mamma and daddy!!!), I apologize, as I won't be able to update until after next Tuesday, and if I'm super lazy, it will be a pretty late update. Buuuut I'm going to see Dokdo, which is a huge culturally and historically significant place, so that's pretty exciting. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic week, and I hope your weekend was as awesome as mine. But members of Super Junior waved at us and I drank coffee surrounded by adorable stuffed animals, so I kind of doubt it.


You have to have expected Super Junior here, since I just went to their concert haha. Here are two songs that I haven't posted yet that have been stuck in my head since the concert. 

An older 2010 era song, I really love this one, even though it uses more autotune than necessary, since everyone in Suju is decent, if not awesome, at singing. I think it's super catchy

This one has also been stuck in my head, even though it's not an official Suju song. Henry is part of Super Junior M, the mandarin subgroup of Super Junior. In fact, he's not even Korean. But damn, he is awesome. I don't listen to a ton of his stuff because it's not really my style, but I can't get this one out of my head. He's an incredible violinist too. 

Do I understand the video? No. Does Henry look tough enough for the hip hop look he always has? No. Do I still love this song? HECK YES

Have a good week everyone! It's gonna be fantastic!!! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tissues and Tacos

Well, as I deliriously explained last blog post, I got rather ill at the end of Chuseok, so thankfully the work week was blissfully short and I didn't have to suffer through a full week before I could sleep for 12 hours. 

I headed back to school on Thursday, which happened to be a pretty important day for me and my fellow expats, but a pretty typical one for everyone else. 

As I mentioned on FB, it did again feel weird to live in a place where September 11th had no meaning. It was just a day to get back to school, to see friends again, to moan about homework and lessons. No pauses, no worries. It's strange to be teaching kids who are the same age I was when it happened. I hope they never see anything like it in their lives... Just know that many of us expats over here were thinking about it and were keeping the thoughts alive and well, even as the rest of our world moved around us without a passing thought concerning the incident... A very strange feeling indeed...

I also couldn't concentrate much energy on most things, lessons, Korean class, the anniversary, etc, because I was just not feeling good...

I thought I was feeling better on Thursday night, since my sore throat was lessening a bit. My co teacher had made the lesson for 5th grade, so I didn't have to talk a lot, which helped. I had already prepped for 4th grade last week, so I was all set for Friday. I went to Korean class after school and headed straight home with the intention of going straight to bed and sleeping off the rest of the illness. 

The illness had other plans. I slept fitfully throughout the night, waking up multiple times to blow my nose. I was not aware how often I did this until I woke up at 5:55 a.m. to see this:


With my nose both stuffed and running like a fountain, I headed to work. I stopped on the way to pick up some supplies.

Everything I need for a cold. 

Thankfully, it wasn't a hard day, again. I said approximately 2 words to Young Ah before she side glanced at me and said, "Uh, do you have a cold or something??" It was that obvious from my voice, which, if not used often when ill, sounds like I smoke six packs a day or something.

Thankfully, my 4th graders are pretty good most of the time, and Young Ah helped me with the instructions for the lesson, so that I didn't completely lose my voice or get completely exhausted during the day. 

My co workers also didn't bug me for much, except to pressure me to eat more grapes at our Friday 'meeting' which is really just snack time. Sometimes they try and get me to talk, but they could tell I was kind of out of it, so they just kept offering me grapes. I can't wait till grape season is done. I like grapes, but I have never eaten so many seeded grapes... seriously we have them like every other day. And I hate the seeds, and they don't eat the skins here... honestly, I just make such a mess that it's super annoying. Wamp. 


My colds tend to be fierce but few and far between, and I knew I just had to rest up this weekend, so I headed straight home after work. Well, not straight home.

This is the cute restaurant I get my
Korean take out from.

YUM GIANT OMURICE. It lasts for 2 plus
meals and is like $5. yesss. 

I went to bed super early Friday and slept for at least 12 hours, so I was feeling much better on Saturday when Sarah asked me if I felt up for a dog cafe excursion. I'm always up for animal cafes!

he was really into my phone

This one loves Sarah. It slept at her feet for
like 90% of the time we were there

Sleeping on our bill...

Sarah and I also had a mission; we both needed things in Edae, the cheap shopping area near Hongdae. I needed a new backpack, as you will see later, and she needed new sunglasses, since she has to wear them a lot now because she got LASEK surgery and brightness is not good for that whole recovery business. We were successful, so we decided to treat ourselves to one of our most frequented restaurants, Dos Tacos. I mentioned tacos to Cesca, and she hightailed it over to Sinchon to meet up with us for a fun, low key dinner. 

Cesca was super excited to be able to say "I
ate dos tacos at Dos Tacos."

Then I headed home to relax. 

Trying my green tea nose strips because
I can't get enough of Korean skincare

I contained myself and only bought 2 bags in Edae.

cute new purse! I just like black purses.
They're so functional.

New backpack!!!

Cause my old one is dying

That's not gonna last long...

I swear I don't know how I have any money left ever. Korea is too cute.

I hadn't planned on much on Sunday, but Lauren invited me out to lunch with her BF and his friend. We ended up at a restaurant in Itaewon called Vatos, which serves 'urban tacos.' They're effing delicious, so we just got a variety of types and split them. Sooooo good. I guess it was just meant to be a taco filled weekend!

Their tortilla chips are huge and delicious!

we got 5 different types of tacos. Each one is scrumptious
I spent the evening reviewing some Korean, because I have a test Tuesday. Blerg. I still have that A plus student drive in me. But I'm surely making progress in the language, so that's something to be happy about!

So yes, a slower weekend more filled with food than anything else. The rest of the month will be very busy, as next weekend includes some friend time and the Super Junior concert!!! Aaaah so exciting!!!

The weekend after that is special, because I applied and was selected for a special SMOE trip to see Dokdo, which is a famous and contested territory just off the coast of Korea. I'm very excited to go and learn more about it, but I'm especially happy cause I get to skip 2 days of school. Not that I don't love school, but going on a field trip is so much fun!

Plus, with lots of plans getting made for October, it looks like I won't have as much down time as I have been having, mostly because it's finally cooling of to habitable temperatures nowadays, so going outside on the weekends isn't torture anymore haha. 

Besides the cold, which has mostly gone away now, things are going well again. School is much easier this time around (sorry Ces, it'll get easier!), I'm used to the routine and I'm better at managing my lessons and time.  I am wondering if this second year will go even faster than the first. I guess time will tell! I can't believe we're halfway through September!!!

In preparation for the Suju concert next week, besides listening to Mamacita, I'm also digging the rest of their album, especially this popular number that they're sure to do on Saturday. Enjoy "Shirt"

It's from a music show performance, so forgive the shrieking fangirling.