Sunday, August 31, 2008

So much to update, so little time...

It is 7:29 a.m., and I have just emerged from the shower after arriving home from a night of dancing. I am so glad it's Sunday, I don't even know where to begin to explain my happiness. Tomorrow is Monday, which means the safety of sweet children's arms wrapped around me, sharing their love and comfort. (I'm laughing, are you?)

On Friday we had a field trip to a musical for the kinder, and it was fantastic. I took photos, so I'll do a post about it at another time. Also, it was Ashley's birthday, which was equally as fantastic. My pictures from that, however, did not turn out (aw) so a post about that will have to wait until someone brave has uploaded her pictures to Facebook.

After a long day of sleeping Saturday, it was time to go out and say good bye to several people I've gotten to know over the last month. We went to a very nice hotel after a very nice taxi drive where we ate very nice food and giggled while people danced to a very funny band. Afterward, there was of course more downtown dancing action and well... that basically puts us at 7:33 a.m., what with 4 minutes of writing and all.

On the walk from the bus stop to my door, I was feeling badly for myself as a guy I had started to like gave me a, "we could be really, really good friends. Great friends, even," kiss off, and then I saw four older women walk by me. They were obviously friends out for their morning walk (while I walked by basically looking shipwrecked), and the thought occurred to me that I need to choose how I feel about certain situations.

This person is leaving in a few months, and thus has very little bearing on this 100-year adventure God calls life. Those friends, though, have stuck by each other through unhappy marriages, deaths of families, Christmases and New Years. And as I look at the larger picture that is Kate's life, I see two grandmothers, one grandfather, one father, one mother, one sister, and one beloved college roommate who have stood by thick and thin for all my life (well, except Tracy, who through no fault of her own has only known me since 2001). I have been fortunate enough to have made friends from coworkers despite having only been chained to the cubicle for a year, and already in Korea I have met some of the most incredible people who already see the butterfly I'm struggling to become.

That seems kind of wordy and rambling. I suppose what I'm trying to say is, this blog is the chronicle of my incredibly awesome year in South Korea, and I intend to stay focused on the doors being opened and the positive changes.

In other news, I think Costco is from Satan. I've already eaten like 1/3 of this ginormous brick of cheese, and I think I've halted all weight loss progress.

For all those cheap gourmands out there, here's something I have developed a passion for: you make ramen, spicy ramen, and then you make rice. Take a spoonful of rice and dip it in the ramen broth. Screw the noodles, this is absolutely fantastic.

It's definitely bed time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It finally happened!

After a month of crazy, swerving, erratic, unturnsignaly driving, there was a wreck in front of my apartment. I wasn't even going to post about it, but it was so strange by comparison to American standards that I felt compelled.

Despite the fact that the front of the taxi was severely crunched from ramming into someone who apparently did not take my father's "how to back out without dying" driving class, and the fact that there are enormous shards of plastic littered in the street, I have not heard 1 siren.

Information was politely exchanged and both drivers headed back on their way. No holding up traffic. No yelling. No asshole driving with his leg hanging out of the driver's side window.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

more animals


I have exceeded everyone's expectations as both a kindergarten and afternoon teacher. I have received high marks from both the owner's daughter and each of my bosses with particular notations on how quickly I've adapted to both culture and coursework, and how hard working I am.


Taught my dad Konglish...

...and this is what I got.

Mostee pavorate Smartassee:

Pirst of all, Lead weights were BEPORE this.
Secondly, it was two SENIOR Yearees.
Thirdly, hope your'e having Pun.

Love Dadee

Pleased to Announce...

My hamster has not given birth, and I no longer believe she will. She just grew. A lot.

Today was parents' day (a day when parents can come not understand my English, too!), and not one kid's parents loved them enough to come make me nervous. Hip hip hooray! I was ready for it--I planned extra, wore a SKIRT, and had given myself the "God will get you through this awful public speaking experience" prep talk (and actually believed it). So I guess we know why no one showed up. lol

The parties are lined up for the next several evenings. Tonight is "welcome new guy to Korea" night, since Jeff has arrived from Canada. We're doing as much with Galbi, the pork dish I've been dying to try for a month. Tomorrow night is a good bye dinner for Tere. Friday night is Ashley's bday. Saturday night is a good bye for everyone else dinner. Holy crap! So if you wonder, "where's Kati?" the answer is simple: probably under the table thanks to all the soju.

Today was a rough day. Mondays are easy because I have 6 classes, and Tuesdays I have 6 again. Wednesdays I get smacked upside the head with 8. In addition to that, I had a short fuse and very naughty kindergartners. They were screaming, running, drawing on the table, and fighting. Since we were studying "happy, sad, angry, scared, and sick," I suggested they tell me what teacher's face looked like. "Angry!" they all screamed, and then their eyes went big as they realized what was happening. I wrote a list of 6 rules and made them write them down over and over in both classes, and it was the quietest afternoon I've ever had. Tomorrow, though, will be the time to see if the proof is in the pudding.

The older kids were okay this afternoon. I have 2 girls who really memorized "Peter Piper," and they race each other to see who can say it first. I told them all we'd compete on Friday, so I better get some prizes! My toughest class was my toughest class, but I out-witted them. They thought they knew their prepositions because they memorized what the book said, but when issued a worksheet composed separately from the book involving a zoo map it pleasantly took the rest of the period. Bwuaha, I out-smarted 11-year-olds.

That about brings my post to a conclusion before I go to change out of my skirt, but I do have one observation to share. The last few days, I have felt taller, my posture has improved, and when I walk down the street I feel prettier than I did a month ago. So, to my constantly adoring Panda class (Paul, Ryan, Amy, Sue, Jenny and Laura), I send my thanks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wearing lipstick belonging to a lady of the night.

Friday is an 80's birthday party, and Saturday is a going-away party for SIX teachers! So there is going to be a lot of partying, dancing, sweating, and bad, bad costumes. Here in the land of "size 4 is chunky!" I have completely abandoned all hope of finding leggings (is it possible to abandon zero hope?), and I have focused all of my attention on trying to be 80's chic with make up and hair baubles alone. So far all I have accomplished is an embarrassingly bright shade of red lipstick.

What's worse is I kind of like it.


I'm going to go bury my head in shame, but know that there should be pictures at a later date. Unless all evidence is destroyed in the meantime.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

High Praise

"Can you believe your dad took Bagel Stop bagels to his meeting on Friday and DID NOT EAT ONE?????? What a waste.

I digress. I love your blog. Mr. Bonawitz would be so incredibly proud of you. I'm off to go read it to dad. Enjoy your CHEEEEEEEEEEEESE! " - E-mail from mom

First off, Shame to my father. SHAME! As penance, I demand a bagel air-mailed to Korea. Mountain Man. Better send 20 just to make it worth the shipping cost. ;)

Second, and this is very important, my parents think my blog is awesome. These are the two people who, by law, were forced to slave over my 11th grade papers: correcting punctuation, rearranging basically every sentence I wrote so that all ideas related to A were in the same paragraph instead of in the sporadic (and admittedly at times incoherent) and hurried mess that were handed to them, and explaining (as many college professors were about to drill into my head) basic paragraph structure, controlling ideas, and etc.

Mr. Bonawitz used more red pens than anyone else in the world. He was a 55-ish Jewish man with the best sense of humor. For homecoming he dressed up in a tiara and pearls. All day long. And he used to sing that he was a love machine. And he didn't work for nobody else. (Hm, I just got the irony of that statement.) Each week he graded 100 papers--twice. We had to submit a rough draft, then a final draft. It was a pain in the butt writing a paper each week, but now that I'm in the teacher's chair, I look back and I really admire what he did for us. (And because I stayed up too late talking to a guy [who at least bought me McD's for breakfast!] I'm incredibly tired and may actually have tears of respect and gratitude and fondness welling.) (All)(of)(these)(asides)(shouldn't)(be)(in)(parentheses)(because)(they're)(complete)(sentences). (You can lead a horse...)

So, now I am an ungodly number of years older and the accomplished author of a 61-page thesis on the history of abortion that scored an A-: just the grade I needed to get my 3.40 and graduate from college with honors. And I'm holding the red pen. How am I going to go the extra mile for my kids and make sure they're given the best opportunities to learn English well enough to pass TOEIC or TOEFL? Or well enough to ask a perfect foreign stranger which would be better, the 2 bricks of cream cheese or the 3 tubs?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I love Costco.

I have had the best day. McDonald's and Costco--seriously, how does it get any better?

After waking at 11:30 this morning (consequence of being up until 3, 3:30), I was feeling a little groggy and sluggish until I remembered the day's mission: Obtain Cheese. As you can imagine, I practically propelled forward once the objective was clear, so with an empty canvas tote and my UmBrElLa!!, I headed out to grab the 937. I cannot reiterate enough times how incredibly and utterly important it is to BOARD THE BUS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE STREET. So $1.10 later (1100 won!!) I found myself at the end of the line (please note that a real authentic Korean fell into the same trap) and being guided off of the bus. A quick to call to Ashley confirmed that I am eternally in need of a compass, and I found myself at a new store. Being the adventuresome (adventurous? hehe, I teach English) person that I am, I headed in to inspect what was being sold.

The store is called HomEver, and it's pretty similar to Home Plus. I estimate it's 3/4 the size, but the goods are different, so I had fun picking up and inspecting everything that struck my fancy. In the end, I came away with $6 worth of crayons (for only $2.10!), note cards to turn into flashcards, and a child's game. Let me explain the game. It's a board with 30 panels and 30 buttons. The buttons slides up and down over an image, the top half being a picture and the bottom half being the identifying word in Korean. I was so excited I almost giggled out loud until the kid behind me started crying. FYI--they're just as shrill here as home! I picked up and put down probably a hundred things, reminding myself that I needed to have lots of room in case I ever found Costco.

10 minutes by bus is 20 minutes by foot--unless there's a McDonald's on the way. Yesterday, I never got around to eating (I tried at 1 a.m. this morning, but most places were closed, and after I got hit on the second time I decided I was safer at home), so I figured I deserved and owed myself a Shanghai Spice Chicken Burger. Let me tell you, the mayonnaise was extra mayo-y, and chicken was extra Shanghai-y, and the fries were crisp. It was AWESOME! Refueled, it was time to find the correct 937, which I did, and rode with great anticipation to the Motherland.

It's E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S!!! I walked into the building, practically salivating for the samples I was about to encounter when I was confronted with seven floors to choose from. Fortunately, 4 of them were parking. That's right. While you suckers park miles and miles away from the mall, there's no such thing here. Space is too precious to turn into a parking lot, so there are scores of parking garages, and major stores have their own. I decided to take the escalator and follow the other lemmings, seeing as how they usually know how to read the signs, and after being corrected (got off on the third floor, had to go down to the first) I made it to member services and got my card. (Which will eternally be pronounced card-uh in my head.)

A side note: they're pretty big fans of escalators here, and the landing is about 1 1/2 feet shorter than it is back home, so once the incline (or decline) is complete, the next step is on solid ground so that you have to be paying attention. All of those Croc shoe incidents, if you noticed, have been over here. AHEM! Your toes are more in danger here regardless of shoe selection.

The first floor is as big as any Costco back home. And there are three of them. The first floor had a lot of kids books in English; I'm thinking about getting a book for each of my kindergartners (finally spell check caught that word and had a suggestion) and telling them when they have practiced it really well they can read it to the class. I got some first-grade level trivia questions that I think I can use in all of my classes, if nothing just for English practice. After a cursory spin around, my cart and I rode the escalator to the second floor.

Also known as Heaven.

I was greeted by a Jack Daniels sign and acres of foods from home. And I touched every single thing on that floor. I caressed the cheeses, salivating at the blue but keeping my focus: cheddar. After nearly running over and nearly being run over, I cruised through the bakery (real cake!) and found the most beautiful yellow brick of sharp cheddar on earth. Every ounce (no kilograms here!) worth the $11.57. I kind of had to jostle around a woman who was contemplating the cream cheese selection.

Let me help you read into this phrase. "Contemplating the cream cheese selection."
1) Costco has cream cheese.
2) If Costco has cream cheese, then Costco has bagels.
3) My onion bagel sandwich was delicious.

Continuing, the woman looked at me as I'm accustomed to being looked at, and she spoke like I'm not. "Is this cream cheese wrapped or in a tub?" she asked. !!!!!!! Just like that! There was no need for guessing or inference; she knew English! So after discussing the benefits of buying 2 bricks of cream cheese versus 3 tubs ($4 difference for 100 mg, not worth it), she told me where to get the bagels and my day was complete. I did not pass go, I did not collect $200, I went directly to the check out counter where I gladly paid cash and hurried to the bus stop. I got home without any further delay and toasted my bagel in a frying pan (just needed it warm!).

I also bought some kick ass socks for Molly for 50 cents. I love Korea.

Feeling lazy~

I have spent the last several hours downloading software, editing pictures, and uploading them. Unfortunately, I just can't find the interest to post each picture individually to my blog right now. Here is a link to the slide show, and 1 cute shot before I head to bed.

I thank God for watching over my family and friends for me; this evening I got to chit chat with Peliton coworkers, and it was refreshing. Have a bagel for me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Photo Test

Testing "No Octopus."


This is basically how the last 5 hours have gone:

"Our systems indicate that the computer you are using is not located within the 50 United States or District of Columbia. Due to studio licensing reasons, movies are available to watch instantly only on computers in those locations."

Have internet, but can't download much of anything. I can't renew my game subscription. Can't watch movies on Netflix. Can't download a different game to kill this rainy night.

The new schedule came out for September, and I have 20% more classes. :( Heather and I have more classes than anyone else.

To reward this post being about 99% shorter than I want it to be (feeling terribly whiny) I'm going to hop the 937 to Costco tomorrow and get a membership. If I have to do overtime, there will be some sort of Mexican food.


It's Friday! Congratulations, everyone, you've made it through another week! As I look back, I consider it a satisfying week. Today I issued a test in one of my kinder classes, and everyone got at least an 80%. All of my students are still alive, and I really enjoyed my afternoon classes.

For those curious, here's how my days go. Monday through Friday, from 10-11:30 I teach 2 kindergarten classes (Koala and Swan). Sometimes I do lunch duty from 11:30 to 12 (supposed to be unless someone [David] doesn't eat his rice), then break until 12:30. At that time I teach the same 2 classes again until 2, usually switching out the subject, i.e. studying a story book (what idiot made "Growing Vegetable Soup?" no one likes reading it, and it doesn't even have a song, and who even likes vegetables? What 5-year-old, anyway?) or phonics (snooze).

At 2 o'clock, all the teachers convene to spend 1 hour preparing for afternoon classes, which commence at exactly 3:05 (????). Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I teach older kids (11-13) from 3 to 6, and Tuesday and Thursday I have afternoon kindergarten classes. These kids go to Korean kinder and have English supplementary classes in the afternoon; I absolutely love these kids. They are adorable in every way, and I only have to see them twice a week. :)

Several times this week, girl students have proclaimed, "I love you, Kate Teacher! You are so beautiful!" And each class period, Lena (one of the older girls) thanks me for teaching. I don't know how that couldn't be heart-warming.

For those accent enthusiasts that I know (Hi, Dad!) let me illustrate what I nail my kids for constantly. The "f" sound is foreign here; coffee becomes cop-ee, for instance. There is a commercial I see far too often that repeats over and over "Iced cop-ee, iced cop-ee" and I sigh. Yesterday I spent 10 minutes showing a class how to make the "f" sound, and I am pleased to report that it worked!

After replacing "f" with "p," it is time to move on to replacing the soft "i" sound. Igloo = eegloo. Feesh. Eecky. Eet. Ees. Good! Now add a vowel sound at the end of every word. "Feesh-ee." "Engleesh-ee." There you go! You are now speaking Konglish.

Now that I'm a legal alien, I get internet in 2 hours. My next post, hopefully, will be from the comfort of my apartment. Hooray!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

No longer unbearable

Good things are happening in Korea. And by that, I mean I no longer sweat stepping outdoors. It's probably around 80 degrees, which is plenty considering the humidity, but it's so much more pleasant than it has been! For the first time, I've made it through a whole morning with my hair down, and it's nice looking better.

Last night I got caught in the rain again after a movie. It turns out it likes to catch you off guard. :( We didn't go into the movie until 9:30, and it wasn't rainy then--it had been sunnnnnnny all day--but sure enough, got out at 11:30 and it was sprinkling. Just enough so that when I got home I was soaked, and ironically stopping just one block before my building. I guess I needed a bath. While I was flicking a bug off my shirt, I almost caused a car wreck. Pausing to pull out my shirt and blow on the thing to get it to fly away, I lifted my head and caught the gaze of two women who had literally stopped in the middle of the street to stare at me. "You could say I'm kind of a big deal around here," rang in my head. Anchorman-inspired giggle.

No news on the hamster front, but hopefully there will be good news in Ashleigh's life soon...

For those who are interested in posting comments on my blog, you are more than welcome to sign up for a gmail account (e-mail made possible through Google at; then all you'll need to do is log in to post--relatively simple, and it keeps "Lolita" from posting garbage--if you know what I mean.

There's lots of drama over upcoming schedules and people leaving, but to be honest, I just remember the misery of my cubicle, then look out the window of my desk to the sunshine and happy children, and it's definitely worth the exchange. As much as I loved Jon and the back of his head, it has given me appreciation for this loose schedule, fun co-workers, and the adventure I've wanted for a very, very long time.

Yesterday afternoon, it became official. I am a legal alien residing in South Korea. A genuine ex-pat, I have the card to prove it. My name is so long they wrote it on two lines, and in general I can make out that they expect me to leave the country in July of 2009. It seems like both tomorrow and light years away. Pretty much without saying, though, it's understood that there is too much to do for it to be tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I think my hamster is pregnant

*Insert shifty eyes* I think my hamster is pregnant. In the last week, she has doubled in size and eaten everything I've put into her cage. Heather said Niblet has eaten just as much, but he's only grown a little bit. When I first got her, too, remember the satanic rearing and hissing? Yeah, that's continued, and I'm a little terrified of her. Last night, instead of pooping in the house as has become common, she dragged a bunch of nesting material into the house and like cozied in. I'm very concerned.

It brings up memories of the gerbils--the 2 boy gerbils we had received for Christmas and one of them gave birth Christmas morning. Yeah that's right. Boys giving birth, alert the media! They had a ton of babies, too, and then the babies ended up inbreeding, and we had handicapped gerbils.

I really don't want baby hamsters, and I won't even consider the possibility of hill billy in-bred handicapped hamster babies. Sigh.

Today I bribed a kid to eat his rice. I told him if he ate it all by 12:00, he could have my balloon sword. It totally worked. I only have lunch duty for this class for another 3 days. Surely I can come up with a balloon-something to last the week out.

Last night I was sitting in my apartment admiring my phone--because I still couldn't think of anything better to do--when I started staring at the plug for my computer. I thought about how it is dual voltage when, like a bolt of lightning, I realized I should look at the plug for my camera battery. IT'S DUAL VOLTAGE, TOO! What a relief! I've been worried about ordering something online in Korea to obtain a method of charging my camera battery, and here it is right under my stupid nose. Now the adventures can resume, and there shall be photographic evidence. Just as soon as I get internet.

Rescued from my den of dumbness (spell check didn't ding me, so I'm using it), Ashley and I walked to get a most delicious soup last night. She didn't tell me it was floor sitting :( so I was surprised when we got there, but the smell was so enticing I would have gone anyway. We settled on our mats (and commandeered spares from nearby tables) and had the biggest pots of soup brought to us. They each held probably a liter of liquid, and then had big bones sticking out of it. The broth was actually still boiling, so we picked off the meat and tossed it in, setting aside the bones. The meat must have been braising for a long time, it just fell off and was so tender you don't need teeth! (Haha, Mississippi shout out) The spices were just right, and even the kale was good. The whole meal (two gigantic, meaty bowls of soup, kimchi, radish, and peppers) was $10 for the two of us. Awesome!

To walk off our bellies full of meat, we went to Home Plus (of course!) There was much talking and getting to know Ashley, and it was a fun time.

It's just about determined that I have the best apartment. It's one of the smaller ones, but the decor (dark wood, nice floors, rad bathroom) makes it prime. Also the separate room for laundry and entry. I win!

And for those curious readers, the toilet paper stays dry with a metal flap covering it.

I have had the opportunity to speak with my mom on the phone a few times, and it's been nice to hear a voice from home. It sounds like my parents are having a good time in Billings with their parents. ... Did I mention my grandma thought I was a telemarketer and hung up on me? Love you, Gammy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just when I was growing accustomed...

First off, people are leaving me comments. WHOOPPEEEEE. And I only get online 4-5 times a week, so they build up, and it's super exciting. I'm FAMOUS. ... It all makes sense, now. That's why I have my 13-year-old paparazzi.

Second, I was concerned about the adventure growing stale and the newness wearing off. I want to make sure this Korean thing doesn't run stale, so I need to always be trying new things and keep denying myself access to the English-esque bakery and really pushing outside my boundaries. Today, Lion helped me do that.

It was a peaceful Monday morning, and I had 4 semi-quiet boys on my hands, working to finish their workbooks so we can play hangman. One got up to ask a question, and as he handed me his workbook I glanced down just in time for his bright yellow shorts to literally fall off. They were zipped up, buttoned up, the boy is just so tiny that they had nothing to hold onto. When I asked the Korean teachers for help, he came back with a big (but colorful!) alligator clip cinching off 6 extra inches of fabric. I may have had to adjust the clip 3-4 times, but at least there were no more Superman sightings in Swan Class.

*Willing to take advice from moms on how to get kids to eat, btw.*

I have entered my 4th week here in Korea, and the lessons have begun. I have been monitoring my self-talk, and it is all surprisingly negative. For such a happy person, I am so hard on myself. I've decided to give myself a vacation from it, and I must admit I've slept better. That could also be attributed to my snazzy panda sleeping mask.

I now have a cell phone (yay!) so I no longer live in the dark ages. I'm glad to have some sort of contact with the outside world, but the little walk to Mel's probably does me good. I've been pondering maybe telling you who all of these people are. ... I'm still in the thinking stage, though. :) I get to go spend 2 hours doing as I please. Tschuess!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pottery and Rain

Yesterday Tere and I met up and went to the Daegu National Museum, where I learned a ton.

1) Bring an umbrella at all times.
2) Crocs = slippery when wet
3) Fan Death--leaving your fan on at night can kill you by hypothermia, giving you pneumonia, and etc., so do not leave your fan on at night.
4) Every country has old pots to show.

Tere made an interesting observation while we were there: instinctively, it seems as though each culture uses decorating the head as the preferred method of demonstrating authority. Some of the crowns that the early Koreans invented were so peculiarly flimsy, with teeny tiny little decorations that looked like they could fall off if you breathed too hard. I just realized, though, that none of those teeny little pieces were missing. Maybe the crowns were constructed more heartily than I initially gave them credit for.

Afterwards we had a Korean version of a German pancake, and it was actually pretty good. Mostly what stands out in my mind, though, is that you have to sit on the floor. My right leg took approximately 90 seconds to fall asleep. I stretched all out under the table, though, and it was more comfortable. I wouldn't want to eat a 3-4 hour meal there, but 1-1/2 would be tolerable. :) Particularly since the spicy noodles and spicy soy sauce and German pancake were delicious.

I got soaked on the way home (it's sunny out now, but I have my umbrella--lesson learned), which was not particularly good for my cold which has primarily settled in my chest, now. Should be gone shortly, then, though, and I am glad for the 3-day weekend to heal. I have settled the matter with Wells Fargo that I am in fact living in another country, now, and am ready to go buy more brightly colored paper to settle in for an afternoon of letter writing.

God bless.

As Written Yesterday Morning

Currently it is 11 a.m. on Friday morning, and I am sitting in a Korean bakery with an empty cinnamon roll container (somehow I reasoned it healthier than the fresh donuts) and an empty carton of strawberry milk (honestly, it was either that or chocolate milk.) As I sit here pondering a sugar coma (nap), I am watching 2 street vendors. The school is on a busy street (4 bakeries in 1 block, post office, fire station, police station, 3 convenience stores of the same brand [GS25]), so for what is 300 meters (and continues another 300 meters past the bridge), there are fruit, vegetable, fried food, clothing, and hair scrunchy shops operated out of vehicles that never leave the street. Well, except mandoo guy. I think he is off celebrating today, 1 of 3 independence days, all from Japan.

I am sitting and watching these women, starting to wonder if they are friends or enemies. They spend most of the day sitting with one another, setting up shop and stacking their fruit in perfect little pyramids in baskets, hoping someone will buy some--or all--and free their minds momentarily over the meager electric bill. What else makes me wonder is the fact that much of what they are selling is the same. Nectarines, tangerines, the starts of the region's famous apple crops, onions, and some squash varieties. Usually they have mass amounts of garlic, green onions, and potatoes, too. On the other side of the bridge are the people selling fish and ell exposed for the brave buyer. There is even a little old man who makes his living selling shucked garlic. I think I admire him most of all. He found his niche in thi garlic-loving market, and he makes a go of it every single day. Almost all day, too. I remember watching him set up shop at 10 a.m., and taking ti down as I walked by at a quarter to 8, with most of his cache gone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kate Southern: Rock Star

Yesterday's teaching adventure concluded with 1 more boy crying, and approximately 12 threats made. I discovered that if I want the kids to stop speaking Korean, all I need to do is stand at the front of the class and speak in small words. I figure it's better that they hear some English that they don't understand than speaking their native tongue about video games or what have you.

After school, Heather mercifully took me to Home Plus where we had McDonald's. Mmmmmm. I ate all my fries, too, and they were hot and delicious. Thereafter, Heather had a wild hair up her butt about buying a hamster, so we went to the second floor and poked around. As soon as the gal opened the hamster pen, we were swarmed by a dozen kids. No joke. Four boys were learning English, so they asked our names and giggled and ran off. I started to walk away and they called, "Good bye most very pretty girl!" Yeah that's right.

Heather joined me and we were walking away... and they were following us, calling to us, and we were doing our best not to make eye contact on the way to the pillow aisle. (Best $10 I've spent this week, honest.) They caught up to us, though, and ... kept following. Apparently they haven't learned "go away!" yet. They were 13, and one of them ay Harry Potter glasses. I resisted the urge to giggle. I have concluded that the reason for their behavior is the fact that I am a rock star with my own paparazzi.

Please don't tell Jitterbug that I am cheating on her with a Korean hamster. :(

She is absolutely TEENY. Probably the size of my first thumb joint. The cool thing about her is that she'll rear up on her back legs and hiss like a cat. I'm going to have to get a picture. I asked Heather what we'd do with them when we leave, and apparently this is a common thing: just leave it behind for someone else. Sounds slightly deja vu-ish.

So last night I slept for 11 hours, and I woke up feeling much better, although I wish in my hamster fever I had remembered to buy kleenex. I still have a fever, but at least I'm less of a leaky faucet.

Signed sincerely,
Kate Southern
Rock Star
Improving Law & Order SVU's ratings 1 awful show at a time

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm sick.

Someone left a pr0n link in my comments.

I made a little boy cry over eating rice.

I'm really glad this week only has 4 days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


My mom opened her first digital scrap booking store. I know that I don't quite understand what it is, but maybe someone with like... access to the internet (ha!) would like to see.

Here it is!

Good job, Mom!

What is commonly referred to as Monsoon Season

Last Friday night, it finally happened. The plug got pulled. :( I no longer have any internet access at home, thanks to kblsi having secured their wireless network and the internet company asking for their modem to be returned. It was fun while it lasted! Fortunately, I should have my alien registration card in a week--then I can get a bank account and internet once again. Woo hoo!

While all of this was happening, though, I was busy at Mr. Pizza with a few of the other Kindergarten teachers. Mel, Heather and I met Yuria, Alice, and Cindy for pizza at Mr. Pizza (made for women). I'll post the sign when I have more time; it's hilarious. (Actually, most of my pictures can be found at Flickr, now, but not all since I'm only allowed 100 MB per month. Apparently they did not get the memo that I moved to another country and have very important food pictures to post. How rude.) While the foreigners enjoyed a good old fashioned combo pizza, the Korean teachers shared a shrimp pizza whose crust was stuffed with sweet potato. It was delicious! Afterwards, I went with the Korean teachers to get coffee from the place Sarah showed me of my first day. I enjoyed getting to know them better. Yuria, it turns out, specialized in Russian literature here in South Korea. Who would have guessed a Korean fluent in English has a passion for Russian literature. The thought makes me smile.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early with one goal in mind: go downtown and return on the correct bus. (Haha!) I picked up all of my letter writing materials and--shoot! I just realized I sent Tracy's letter without an address yesterday. ... Sigh. It's probably a good thing, I just blabbed about a guy for like two pages. :D The more things change! Anyway. Nothing too horrendous happened on my way to Starbucks, other than it began to pour buckets of rain! A picture is also on Flickr. :) It came down hard for an hour, too, so I sat and watched it, read, wrote letters, it was a wonderful time for me. Partly because when I was done (and the rain was cleared up) I had gone through a good chunk of my stationEry which meant I could buy more! I hurried off to Hello Kitty where I got a bright umbrella (just to guarantee the rain was done) and $10 worth of paper, stickers, and pens. The woman remembered me, so I got a pen for free. Woo hoo!

Something awesome about Korea is that often times you get something free. Dinner = 6 to 8 free side dishes. Mascera = blow up sun tan lotion bottle, sun tan lotion samples (SPF 50 rules!), and a bottle of corn-flavored tea. What the heck? but good.

With a fresh stock of paper (and stickers!) I headed back home. On the right bus. I was smiling like an idiot when I got on the bus, but fortunately for me most strangers here do everything possible not to make eye contact, so it was okay. The bummer part was when I got off the bus a mile early on accident. :( And it started to rain. Again. :( Fortunately, Footlocker wasn't far off, so a pair of sneakers later (free socks!) the rain had stopped and I made it home safe and sound.

That night was a party of foreign teachers at Chris's apartment (the view from which is awesome at sunset; if you haven't looked at Flickr, yet, GO DO IT!) Ashley cooked fajitas and 7-layer dip and nachos and sigh. It was good food for sure. We were all so happy and chatty, we didn't get out of the apartment until Midnight to make it downtown where we danced until far too late. I discovered that I had more fun without the soju (go figure ;)) and lasted much longer (4 a.m.!). The other girls were out until 7:30 a.m., so "lethargic" was the name of the game on Sunday. I finished a book, watched bad TV, and wished I could read Korean so I could YouTube search for some of the commercials I saw. They were hilarious! There was one for some doctor's remedy for constipation, and they showed endoscopic procedures and demonstrated intestines working improperly and properly.

My one outing of the day was to the OK! Mart, where I stocked up on drinks and eggs. One soda I had to get was a "cheese ice cream" flavored soda. FYI, it's not a misprint for "cheesecake." It tasted like sweet cheese, and wasn't entirely delicious.

Soon there will be pictures of adorably rotten children to view; hope you come back soon! (The thunder that just clapped would scare poor Gus into the grave, so I'll see you around!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Something with a little less whine

As it turns out, all I needed was a good dose of fried food to fix my mood. :D After I got booted off of the work computer so someone could print something useful off, I headed out and found sustenance! My inner kindergartener (i.k.) really wanted ice cream, but I kept walking and found a truck pulled up to the sidewalk selling food. Having always wanted to eat at something like that, I stood in front of it for a full minute before I recognized any of the food. Frying is very popular here (and in my heart), so there are a lot of mystery substances that look pleasant enough--I just really didn't want squid for lunch.

$1.25 later, I came away with 4 good-sized meatballs and three (3!) good-sized fried peppers. I knew Heather would be stoked, so I ran (okay, walked briskly) to IVY where I shared in my delights. Tere joined us for what turned out to be a fried, mellow pepper stuffed with rice, noodles, and other unidentifiable bits. (Unidentifiable being preferable to squid.) Darn. Good.

The things I've heard about from other teachers (especially the ones back home) have started. "Teacher, I feel siiiick." "Then why were you screaming and playing tag 30 seconds ago?" Plugging along has been working. "Teacher, I feel siiiick," brings the response of, "I'm sorry," and moving on.

There's also a lot of screaming. Some screaming is totally acceptable! The kids are very competitive with each other, so when we play a vocabulary game, I'm glad to have them screaming/shrieking answers. (Insert: Funny kid moment. "What is this?" "A whore!" "WHAT?" "A hoe!" Thank you farmer David.)

In general, though, I believe I am holding my own. It helps that they are not new and accustomed to the typical punishments. For some reason, the kids desperately hate having their names written on the board. Just threatening that is enough for them to correct their behavior. The "corporal" version is to have them stand facing a wall and hold their hands over their heads. Five minutes of that, and I have no problem for the rest of the class. Miracle!

The good students are little treasures. In Koala class, they are all pretty well behaved (although I do have a Dennis the Menace--literally, his name is Dennis), but I have one specific little boy who really seems to grasp what we are doing. He isn't a kiss-up, but I can have a conversation with him of sorts. Oh! In my last class of the day MWF, I have a Dave and Julie. I smile a little whenever I call on them.

At times we get fresh-to-English classes. In those instances, we get to give them their English names. Heather and I have a competition to see who can name a kid Shaniquah first, although the parents may complain. I should start a list, though, and end up with an all-Harlequin type of class. The thought makes me giggle.

It is time to finish my limeade and mosey on just to make sure those shrieking noises don't in fact indicate that someone has impaled themselves and is dying a painful death. Odds are, I'm just missing out on a great game of tag.

Running on Korean Time

I am beginning to think that most of the world does not run according to a watch. It seems like everywhere I go, they say, "Oh, they're running on Korean Time." "Oh, they're running on German time." "Oh, they're running on Molly time." (Haha.) Possibly, us cholerics of the world should just do away with our treasured time pieces and enjoy the confusion with everyone else.

What brings this up? Needing pictures for my alien registration. At 8 p.m. last night, I was informed that I needed pictures for my 9 a.m. appointment with immigration. It has been widely known that I would need to go to get my alien card at some point in time, but no one had mentioned additional pictures before then. The only reason why I was at the school at all was to meet Jamie and Heather to go see Batman: The Dark Knight (a must see). So, we were planning on taking the bus there and meeting Jamie's friends at 9.

Sunny (head Korean teacher for afternoon classes) and Kevin (general errand boy) insisted that pictures had to be taken immediately, and after some cajoling Kevin agreed to drive us there in exchange for my cooperation. The first place we went to wouldn't have the pictures ready until 10 a.m.--an hour late for the time at immigration (which, it turns out, was not a set appointment, thus flexible). Jamie knew of an instant little booth, so we decided to do that then after the movie.

Kevin would have none of that. He hijacked us and took us to another photographer's. I went in, had my picture taken, and waited for about 2 minutes. It was 8:32, and a sane driver takes 30 minutes to get downtown. I told Kevin we had to go NOW and walked off to the car, refusing to wait for him anymore. When I got out to the car, Jamie texted him to hurry up; just as we were about to abandon the BMW, he arrived in a huff and took us off to the movies, arriving a very insane 25 minutes later getting us there at exactly 9:01. 5 flights of escalators later, we had arrived!

Jamie's British friends were very nice, and we got our snacks (popcorn! delicious, delightful popcorn! coke, nachos and ... buttered squid?) before shuffling into the theater. Gratefully, the theater was similar in size and comfort to the ones back home. Stadium seating, plush (large) chairs, and decent sound. There was about a half an hour of previews, and then all faded to black.

Go see Batman!

Heather and I made it back safely to Chilgok (where we live!), and I was able to start my first load of laundry (thank you washing machine repairman!) This morning, then, I woke up early and hung the laundry to dry, showered, and walked to ECC to meet Kevin at 9:10, like he stressed 3 or 4 times. No Kevin. Korean time, don't you know. I sat and started to chat with David, who also needed his alien registration, and Kevin drove up to get us. An hour after we left the school, we got gas, ran some errand, picked up my photos (after 10, mind you), and aarrived at immigration. David and I stood around for a while, but no one really wanted to see us, so we piled back in the van and drove to school.

I'm not really sure if this is a big long whiny post or if it actually has some merit. If nothing, though, I'm ready to deal with 6-year-olds.

Batman was really good. I thought that part of the movie was just hyped up because of Heath Ledger's accidental suicide. No, he did creepy really well, and there was only 1 scene where he looked like his Knight's Tale self. The movie had lots of twists and turns; I giggled, cried, and gasped plenty. Not for the faint of heart.

TPB has started her own blog (welcome to the dark side!) for those who may have an interest.

I have half an hour to grab brunch; maybe I'll have something of interest to say later!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yesterday concluded well. The afternoon kids were more subdued than the morning's 7-year-olds. They were also more hesitant to speak in class. I hope that it is shyness, and that they will become more out-going as they get to know me better.

After work, Mel, Jamie, and Heather took me to "fake" gaubi. It waas a dish of fatty pork cooked in the center of the table. Each table has a place for hot coals to be inserted, then the pork is cooked over that with garlic, mushrooms, onions, and many side dishes. I tried squid in a spicy sauce that really wasn't too bad. It tasted like tougher crab. Kimchi. Bean paste (delicious). Pancakes that Mel loved. Because we were the only customers, the proprietor cooked it all for us and when we slowed eating, she fed us, too. Lol. What you are supposed to do is take a piece of the pork, put it in a leaf, wrap it up with various toppings, and eat the whole thing in 1 bite. Heather is pro. I am not. It is possible I will no longer subsist on peanut butter alone, however.

Especially since Mel showed me where to get ice cream.

This morning was my first Korean Kindergarten birthday party. There were probably 85 pictures taken of the birthday boy, his cake, his classmates, his teachers (me!), and et cetera. It went about as well as an American birthday party, except I didn't understand most of it. On second that, that's pretty much how American bday parties go, too.

Just before I left to work on materials for my afternoon class, I watched them get their lunches and was handed a piece of what Heather had been calling "duck." That's what it sounded like, anyway. It turns out it was like a gummi made of rice, and the Koreans call it rice cakes. Not too shabby. I feel badly ditching Heather with a classroom of screaming 7-year-olds, but my time will come to hand out the sardines, rice, fruit, and other mystery condiments.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Almost Cried in Hello Kitty

It has been a busy few days! When I left last, I was on my way to have a physical for my alien registration. It was the most complete prodding I have ever received. My teeth were checked, I had a chest x-ray (Korean hospital gown < Me), my blood pressure checked (3 times, I was nervous), height and weight (have lost 3 kilos! [6.6 pounds]), eye sight (contacts still work well), hearing checked (no deaf people allowed?), gave a urine sample (hit the "call a nurse" button instead of the flusher), and had blood drawn. Whew! Thursday I find out if I passed. Here's hoping!

That night was the best I've felt in a long time--months. So I took a 2-hour walk. I, Kathleen Elizabeth, took a 2-hour walk for the fun of it. I'm willing to say Korea's going to be good for me. Has already been.

On Saturday, Tere gave me instructions to downtown Daegu, so my wallet and I went with a mission: buy a book in English. I took the 704 bus from the school on a nice 40 minute tour of the city, marvelling at the driving ability of the bus driver. Pulling up in front of the Outback Steakhouse (dad was right), I excited and found the Starbucks. God bless Starbucks. Grande caramel macchiato is the same! Italian is Italian everywhere. After my refreshing, rejuvenating, mind-stimulating drink, I turned left instead of right, and I found Pink Heaven! It was a store with everything Hello Kitty--pens, pencils, alarm clocks, vocabulary books, backpacks, just everything. Drawn towards stationEry like a moth to a flame, I instantly had enough stuff in my hands to warrant a clerk handing me a basket. I stood in front of the paper reading someone's attempts at English when a pre-teen girl approached me to practice her English.

Already this has become something I look forward to. A stranger comes up to me and says, "Hello?" Invariably I respond with a big smile and "Hello!" If they choose to linger, I go into the level one questions. How are you? What is your name? Etc. Questions to help them feel confident. Her name in English class is Gabrielle, and she has been teaching her younger sister some things, too. After a while, they returned to their mom and I continued with the task of choosing weekly planners. A few minutes later, Gabrielle returned to say, "You are very pretty." I was so shocked! I hugged/embarrassed her and thanked her.

For a week I have felt like Katezilla. I am so much taller and so much fatter than everything, and a perfect stranger returned specifically to tell me in my own language that I am very pretty. I almost cried in Hello Kitty.

$20 later, I headed out to find the bookstore. Keep in mind, I had turned left, and the bookstore was to the right. An hour and a big circle later, I was the proud owner of several copyright infringement photos and (unknown at the time) blisters at the end of 3 toes. About ready to give up on the mission, I stood in front of starbucks and in a flash remembered, turn right! Oh yeah. (For the record, I did turn right... I was just facing the wrong way so it was actually left. :) ) I stopped and asked 2 girls if they spoke English. One friend ratted out the other, and I came to some sort of conclusion of going straight. After teaching "high five," I headed off, desperate to get out of the heat. While walking, 2 angels appeared. "You are looking for Kyobo?" the girl asked. "Yes!" "Oh, we go this way!" So she and her boyfriend literally took me inside of the bookstore! I lost them while staring at the beautiful building, so let me shout this into the world wide web: Thank you!

One grande iced tea later (yeah, that's right, more Starbucks), I was a member of a bookstore, had a copy of The Hobbit (mom = proud), Stabilo pens (my favorite!), and speakers since Vista messed with my laptop. Mission: Successful. Right? Only when you get on the right bus. Which I sort of did. There are two 704 buses, one that goes to Kati's house and another that continues away from Kati's house.


An hour later, I was the only one on the bus and the bus driver was very loudly asking a lot of stuff, I guess? I gave him my boss Jin's business card, and thank God she helped clarify. I guess that he was done for the day, and he demonstrated with his hands that I had gotten on the wrong side of the street. Oops. Turns out eye rolling is universal. He put me on another bus, which I rode quite happy for another hour and forty minutes until I was safely redeposited at ECC. So, I had a great air-conditioned tour of Daegu for $1.10. Awesome!

Once I got home, I showered. (Imagine!) I have developed a naked habit because the only towel I have is a hand towel that is almost never dry. So, a half hour later Mel dropped by to check on me, and apparently I had not latched the front door. So I am sitting in the dark with the door open, naked, playing a a computer game. ... I double check the door, now. She invited me for drinks and some downtown action. After some reassurance that I did not need to look like a Jeju goddess, I acquiesced and showered again (more thoroughly).

I had an awesome time. Ashley, Mel and I met up at the bank (bumped into David and Jin!) before heading over. They found apple pie! There is a Costco not far away, which is where Ashley procures her cheese. (Mmmmmmm.) Settling in, I enjoyed girl time with wine... then Soju. Heather prefers Soju with aloe juice, and for some reason my inner frat boy (who knew?) came out and well... excess is bad. We headed downtown and I only made it to 2:30 before begging for a cab. So tired. The girls were out until 7! I admire the dedication, but as the remainder of a mild hangover leaves me, I don't regret my decision.

Sunday's highlight, then, was dinner with Tere. She invited me for bibambap, so I drained my blisters and headed out for my first real, authentic Korean meal! The restaurant was closed. Around the corner, though, was a Japanese restaurant. I had two of the biggest shrimp ever with noodles (and chopsticks) while Tere had some spongy things that later made her ill. :( Sorry, Tere. The best part of the meal was slurping noodles I ensnared in the chopsticks. I figured out I could tie them to the chopsticks in a knot so they could not escape. So here I am figuring this out, while the 4-year-old next to me was using a fork. Cheater.

For dessert, we went to a corner shop and had buns with a light maple-flavored shell baked with a pad of butter in the base. Oh so yummy. It's a good thing they're a mile away.

Told you it's been busy! Now for my first afternoon classes. Here's hoping.



Just a quick update between classes; yes, I am alive! I had a fantastic weekend, and I have a long version hand-written at home. I shall type it and post it a bit later.

Mostly the conclusion is, despite the heat I'm having a good time.

This morning were my first two classes. There was a lot of "uhm" and reading the book and grasping for straws to convey meaning, but in general, I felt good about it. The owner's daughter is in my first class; I better do well.

In desperate need of breakfast and/or coffee.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hurry up and wait

It is now 10:20 a.m. I showed up at 9:55 for my 10 a.m. appointment. (Exasperated pause)

The last few days have been quiet and hot. I have completely unpacked and hunted ants for as long as it held my attention. They're everywhere. I'm going to look for some traps today.

Currently, I am sitting perfectly still, and sweat is beading on my skin. Jeff Dunham kind of pokes fun at people who say, "But it's a dry heat." Well, Jeff Dunham, come experience a wet heat.

Yesterday, one of my co-teachers, Tere, rescued me from my apartment and introduced me to the Korean version of Wal*Mart--Home Plus. Before we actually left, though, she rescued me in my apartment. She showed me how to turn on the burners! So I was able to have coffee last night and it kept me awake until a reasonable hour--thank God. No more bed at 8:30 for me! Back to Home Plus, it was fun. She showed me where the stuff to make chili was, and a few times I got called Mugi (American foreigner). Two brave little girls came up, though, and said hello. I winked and said hi before walking on, and they ran back to their mom with giggles.

This morning on my way into work I passed an older lady; we bowed to each other and I greeted her (onion haseo! I know it isn't right, but that's what it sounds like) and I didn't get beat over the head, so I guess I passed. I need to work on this language thing. I keep getting pleased to meet you and thank you confused. :)