Friday, October 3, 2014

Pre Dokdo Happenings

Well, it's been a long and busy almost 2 weeks. My apartment is a mess and I'm quite tired, so I'm very grateful that today is a national holiday (Foundation Day, the one about the bear and the tiger in the cave and all that), so that I could just have a break to catch up on somethings, like TV, blogging and sleep. 

So get ready for a few long posts about my trip to Dokdo, a *famous* island that is always a hot topic in Korea, because it's not officially theirs, and they're fighting over it with Japan.

My week was a slow week last week, nothing crazy to report. My 5th grade has become a little more exhausting, because my co teacher and I decided to make it more or less "practice time with Christina Teacher." So, all of the students come out in pairs and talk to me for a few minutes, which is great practice for them, and they're doing really well (it's supposed to build up their confidence in talking to a foreigner who speaks English), but it's rather exhausting for me to have the same conversation with 14 pairs in each of my six classes. 

Because the 4 day Dokdo trip involves a lot of pictures, typing and expalanations, I'm going to split everything into a few posts, so please be patient with me while I sort through many pictures, notes and historical documents to adequately explain why it's so important to Korea. I'll have this blog up to date sometime in the next week or so. I hope...

Until then, enjoy the "this is what happened before I left for Dokdo" update!

please note that this is a group of men
welding in the street with no protection or barriers.
Yay Korea

my kids are learning how to describe people,
so they had to draw someone and describe them.
One of my troublemakers drew "me" haha
I ain't even mad.

the first graders are practicing a fan dance
for Sports Day1

hello, old friend. It's been a while

The reason I needed wine this week was because the only major even I had was a banking malfunction. I send money to my American account every month, because of student loans and all that. A few months ago, I started having sporadic problems with the card, but ignored it because the issue could have been any number of things. This month, however, the thing just crapped out and I couldn't send money home. Along with that, Korea has this security system that involves "banking certificates," which basically add another step to online banking security. I had to renew my certificate and change the password. All went well, I successfully used the new password, blah blah, and then the next day, it wouldn't work! Nothing helped! I even got locked out of my ID login (2 separate things...), which meant I had to go to the bank anyway...

After 1 trip didn't help the matters, I had to go twice and communicate in my bumbling Korean (although the lady at the desk said I spoke well haha), and eventually Young Ah helped sort it out by calling a few times. I feel so bad asking her to do all of this extra work for me, but often, my handler is out of the office doing other things or is very busy, and I'm a little more friendly with Young Ah, whose communicative English is better anyway.

The worst part was that if I tried to fix anything online, it would redirect to the Korean part of the site. Yep, the essentials of Korean banking can only be done in Korean, despite having advertised easy access for foreigners. This is a common problem for expats in Korea. Thankfully, my Korean and problem solving skills are decent enough that I could muddle my way through some of it. Until I got to the error messages. Then I needed Young Ah to help. You know what solved one particular problem? HER DOING IT IN KOREAN. Same steps and everything. Just her using the Korean version. WAMP.

After 2 trips to the bank and over 5 days of attempting to solve the problems, ALL of my banking issues are fixed. For now. Apperently, the first time I sent money, the bank effed up and entered stuff wrong. But, because of the amount I was sending, they didn't notice it until this month, where, because of my bonus, I was sending a little extra home. And also their online banking was effed up. So really, none of it was my fault, which made me feel a tiiiiiiiny bit better.

Sometimes when I feel bad about asking
for help with things like the bank, my co teacher
knows just what to say

She really is the best tho.

On to other matters. 

Apple yogurt that's more like milk.

If you read Cesca's blog, we post a lot of the same things, so I will just add on to the fact that I do indeed have the posters that we received with our Mamacita albums. 

See, in Korea, the album packaging and gifts make it entirely worthwhile to spend the money on the CDs, since it costs about the same as a simple CD in America. But there are perks. Like fan cards, photo books and POSTERS. 

Like this:
Don't mind the mess, I was packing for Dokdo

Photo cred to Sarah, who was stayin over for
the dokdo trip

For your KPop fix, here's a song that adequately describes how I felt this whole week while dealing with the banking issues

It's called Breakdown, about how 'my strong heart breaks down' (even though it says my strong heart has break down... sigh) and 'I've tasted Heaven and Hell.' 

Clearly it's about a relationship. Like mine with the bank. Because I nearly did have a breakdown.


Prepare yourselves for an immense amount of history, propaganda and passion as I begin my updates on my 4 day excursion to see the fabled, ellusive, DOKDO.

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